Friday, October 03, 2014

Fall Kitchen Prep Part 2

I really splurged on autumn mums, didn't I?

I am doing another kitchen organization project today, to get my home ready for the upcoming holidays. This is something I can fit in tonight after I get back from my sister's dinner party. I'll have time to work on the kitchen, and still have a bit of time to read a book in bed, since it's now the weekend and I don't have to worry about a bedtime!


  • Tidy up your home for the weekend. Declutter your mail table or inbox where you keep incoming paperwork; empty trash cans; refresh towels in bathrooms; check toilet paper holders; throw out dead flowers and dead fruit from your fruit bowl; remove shoes and items from staircases if they've accumulated.
  • Need to stop at an ATM for cash, or fill up your car with gas for the weekend ahead?
  • How is your doormat looking? Time to shake it out, vacuum or sweep it? While you're examining it, need to sweep your front porch, patio or steps?
  • Take inventory of pet food - do you need to make a trip to the pet store this weekend? I do - we go through food faster now that I have a third dog here for a few weeks.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Fall Kitchen Organization Part 2 - Refrigerator and Cupboards

Kikkerland's Owl Refrigerator Magnets, on Amazon

Tonight, after I get back from dinner, I plan to tackle my two refrigerators. I keep one in the garage in addition to the kitchen one, for beverages and to hold big bowls of salad or pasta salad, store extra casseroles, etc. I also will work on my cupboards.

Because I faithfully keep up with my weekly fridge and freezer maintenance, this part won't take me much time tonight. I'll take just a few minutes to sterilize, sanitize and dry my fridges and freezers. After that, I'll tackle my cupboards.

Let's make this fun! Put on music in your kitchen - do you have a portable boom box, MP3 player dock, iPhone or radio you can bring in? Or do you prefer a television? Though I don't often use it, I keep a television in my kitchen so I can watch cooking shows or listen to the news while I work. Put on The Cooking Channel, Food Network, a favorite DVD movie, or TV Land for fun (you might catch some Friends, I Love Lucy, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie reruns).

Pumpkin Candle, from Williams-Sonoma

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

Step 1:

Clean out your entire refrigerator and freezer. If you have been keeping up with doing it one shelf at a time along with me on weekends, this should go quickly. Toss old food, wipe and scrub shelves, dry them off, replace only food you'll actually be using and eating. Quickly take inventory of what's left on a notepad you'll carry in your purse, or on your phone, so you can plan what to replace next time you're at the grocery store.

Thoroughly clean the outside of your refrigerator too. Now is a good time to ask someone in your household come help you move it to clean and vacuum under it and behind it. (When my house painters moved my fridge last month to paint my kitchen, they found FOUR dead mice behind my fridge. That means I haven't been keeping up with this chore often enough!)

Wash the wall behind your fridge and wash the sides of it too, if you can reach. There's bound to be a lot of accumulated dust and grime there. Take off and vacuum or clean your fridge's vent, if possible.

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, or 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. Also, I'm never, ever without one or two frozen appetizers in case I throw an impromptu cocktail party.

Step 2:

Rosebud Contact Paper, on Amazon

Cupboards - Remove all your dishes (yes, every last one of them!) and wipe down your shelves, especially if they have contact paper. If your contact paper needs to be replaced, add it to your shopping list and make this a priority for next weekend. (The feet on my colander are scratching up the contact paper on one of my shelves, so I definitely need to replace this!)

Examine your dishes for dust. If you're like me you have some goblets around for entertaining that don't get used very often. Those can get quite dusty at the back of the shelf. Hand wash any dishes that need it, toss the rest in the dishwasher, then replace everything in cupboards as soon as you can.

Reorganize if necessary, or find new homes for things like paper plates, plastic cups, and paper napkins. I store my party supplies 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. I haven't bought paper napkins in a few years, and we're steadily working our way through using them up.

If applicable, examine baby utensils, Sippy cups and baby dishes for wear and tear. Discard and replace if necessary. Or get rid of them entirely if your kids are grown and you don't often have little kids visiting at mealtimes. I rarely do, so I am down to just two sippy cups, two plastic cups, and one cute circus-themed divided tray.

Examine your pans, utensils and cooking gadgets. Throw out anything that looks broken, and clean anything that looks dirty. If we're good housekeepers normally, we shouldn't have a bunch of dirty dishes sitting around in the cupboards anyway. 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). I recently was proud of myself for being able to drop off my cute Hello Kitty toaster and Hello Kitty waffle maker to the Goodwill truck that's parked at the grocery store near me.

Wilton Halloween Witch Cookie Cutters, on Etsy

Step 3:

Cookie Cutters - Do you have a massive number of cookie cutters that you rarely use? I sure do, I must confess. Let's sort and inventory what we have. Consider storing them in some sort of Ziplock bag or plastic box or container to make them easier to find, rather than rattling around loose in a drawer or jumbled up in a box. 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 plastic $1.75 cheapo, old, rarely used cookie cutter in the trash.

Step 4:

Create a shopping list if you notice anything kitchen related you are missing that you do absolutely need and definitely 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. Try a different one every day. Get that breadmaker out, clean it off and actually use it to bake bread. It does most of the work - you can start it on Saturday morning and have fresh hot bread long before dinnertime. Find your tortilla or quesadilla maker and enjoy piping hot, cheesy quesadillas for a snack. (Or learn to make them on the stove or in the microwave and get rid of that one-use gadget!) 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 or soup. 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?

Kikkerland Owlet Kitchen Timer, on Amazon

Tonight, after you are finished in your kitchen, 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 spend time browsing on the Internet. After you've spent time fixing up your kitchen, make someone else cook for you tomorrow!

We'll do a couple more kitchen projects in the next few days - broken up into manageable pieces. If you work a lot tonight, an hour tomorrow, an hour sunday, and perhaps a little next week for a couple evenings, your kitchen will be completely ready and organized for the busy autumn and winter months ahead!

LOVELY BLOGS: The 2 Seasons

This is a "mother-daughter lifestyle blog," written by Janette and Jordan. Their lovely blog offers house tours (I love snooping!), recipes for tasty things such as pumpkin bread, decorating advice ( "One Paint Color, Two Rooms"), and projects for things like office storage. There's also a nice section called "Good Times" about parties and entertaining. I think you'll thoroughly enjoy looking around here.

LOVELY BOOKS: Sing a Song for Sixpence

This charming vintage book was published in 1886. I'm not sure who the illustrator is - the initials are "RC" so I suppose it's not Walter Crane like I'd thought. Spend a few happy moments perusing the darling illustrations if you like!

Sing a Song for Sixpence, on The Internet Archive

LOVELY FOOD: Ben & Jerry's New Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's succumbed to the siren call of pumpkin, and introduced this new limited edition ice cream. I can't personally try it due to my cinnamon and ginger allergies, but I bet it tastes amazing! I'll stock a pint for when guests come to dinner though.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream, at Ben & Jerry's

LOVELY FOOD: Caramel Filled Turtles

I haven't tasted these chocolate turtles yet, but I'm definitely ordering some to give as a hostess gift next time I go to a dinner party this fall. They're so cute! The chocolatier specializes and only offers these turtles and a boxed set of lovely truffles in their shop.

Caramel Filled Turtles, by Gyslain Chocolatier on Etsy


Apple Cranberry Streusel Pie (The Spice Garden)

Bacon Breaded Macaroni and Cheese (Sweet Bella Roos)

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Stacks (Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice)

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Spice Granola (The Simple Kitchen)

Cranberry Pickles (Spice and Rice)

Curried Rice with Chicken and Vegetables (365 Days of Baking and More)

Dulce de Leche Blondies (Belle of the Kitchen)

Individual Apple Crisp Skillet (Life Made Simple)

Pumpkin Spiced Chili (Savvy Chef)

--Copyright 2014 Lovely Living

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