Today I cleaned the area underneath the kitchen sink. 

Not only did I discover duplicates of some items, but some other pointless things to eliminate.  Like the meat grinder that was missing the most important parts that was under that sink when I moved in!

I have a fear of running out of stuff for some strange reason. Hence the duplicate item issue. Most of the items were old cleaning supplies and were able to be condensed into single containers.  Some items are things that I simply do not use anymore and could be discarded.

Simplicity at times does not seem simple, especially when fighting with yourself. 

That said, I need to make an effort to remember to use up the cleaning supplies I no longer use.  I have the remnants of a gallon jug of Greased Lightning, some dishwashing liquid (which will be used to wash the car this summer) and the remnants of a gallon jug of Windex besides a partial bottle of ammonia (which I plan to try as a laundry additive and some other things) and maybe a cup of Oxy-Clean.

It was annoying to discover I had two almost full containers of flea spray for the animals, two containers of insecticide for the yard, two cans of insect repellent, two cans of compressed air, a bottle of floor shine that had never been opened, several rolls of trash bags in multiple sizes and three partially used bottles of liquid potpurri (NOT including the several bottles I have stashed in the other room).

I pooled the contents that could be safely pooled, emptied one of the bottles of liquid potpurri into the soapstone oil burner, used the last bit of deodorizing carpet powder and arranged the rest where the multiples are now grouped accordingly.

Two bags of stuff were discarded–mostly empty containers after pooling things together.  There is a lot more empty space down there now and will be even more once some of this stuff gets used up.

To reward myself for a job well done I treated myself to a long soak in a hot tub of bathwater.

You know, at times it seems like I have made no progress at all, but then I open the refrigerator and see the space empty of the unwanted leftovers that used to fill the space–see that it is actually quite empty in there despite the fact that we have a lot of food!  I see the pantry getting more and more organized as the things we actually use are being given attention while the things that aren’t used so much are being used, given away, or discarded without being replaced.

I see a large decrease in the amount of cleaners I need to satisfy the need to clean, with a subsequent reduction in my expenses as well.  I see a reduction in the grocery bill, though the quality of food has stayed the same and somehow things seem a bit less chaotic around here.  I’m definitely not tripping over things like I have in years past, which is a wonderful feeling.

All in all it has been a productive day.  I hope your day went as well, and I now bid you good-night.

Reorganized Kitchen

I rearranged the kitchen the other day.  Considering how piled up it was before I consider it a success.  I am posting pictures of the “after” part here.

The laptop is not only my computer but my radio, television and telephone as well.  The PDA is used as a portable music player, portable video player and bookreader.

Reducing possessions–especially in the kitchen–just takes time.  True, I could go and just give the extra food away that I have stockpiled, but it is not going to go bad so I have decided to keep it and use it up, though some has been given to friends and family over the past few months.

I have not even attempted to decorate this place yet–I want to wait until spring so that, having lived in this place–I will know what to work on first that will have the greatest effect toward a more peaceful environment.

The Gadget Bucket

This is what I call my “gadget bucket.” It contains the majority of tools I use when preparing food. It has become overgrown, so in the name of simplicity I am thinning it out today.

Here are all of the items spread out so they can be seen better:

This hodgepodge contains:

2 metal spatulas
2 sets of tongs
hand mixer
hand grater
2 wire whisks
3 wooden spoons
plastic slotted spoon
2 plastic dipping spoons
manual can opener
potato masher
singer beater from electric mixer (location of mate: unknown)
chef’s knife
boning knife
2 older tv knives
newer tv knife

Way too many gadgets for a single mom with a single kid. Let’s see what I can thin out:

There! I managed to pare down 7 items from that bucket. One spatula, the lone beater, a pair of tongs, one of the older TV knives, the boning knife, one plastic dipper spoon, and the smaller of the two whisks will be placed in the storage container out in my building.

I kept two of the TV knives, one old and one new because they have different degrees of serration and depending upon what I am cutting sometimes I prefer one or the other. The beater will be kept because I know I have the mate and the mixer stashed somewhere, despite the fact that I may use it once every couple of years.

One of the whisks went into storage, though I was ambivalent about that. I tend to use one whisk or the other depending upon the job but feel it is silly to have two of them. In fact the only reason I own two is because you had to buy a 2-pack at Sam’s club (I got these in the restaurant supply section).

I never use the boning knife – got it and several paring knifes as a bonus when I bought my latest set of TV knives. Why did I buy a new set of TV knives when I had several older TV knives already? I don’t know offhand – I guess because of the one-piece metal construction and the heavier overall guage of the metal – I am abusive to these knives so I may have just wanted spares, though honestly I have yet to destroy a single TV knife despite using them to even cut down small trees in place of a handsaw (I have bent one however). If you ever want an excellent all-around knife you can use and abuse, invest in a set of TV knives. They run around $40 dollars and are well worth every penny!

I have owned three sets – the first set was lost in the divorce, the second and thrid sets are going strong (why did I think I needed 2 sets?).

I kept out my favorite set of tongs and stashed the other set. Eventually I may feel safe enough to permanently let go of these items but for now storage it is…

One day I am in hopes of getting a wall-mount knife magnet to get those up and out of the way, then perhaps I will figure out another method of storing my gadgets besides that bucket!

For those who are curious, I have used a manual can opener for years for several reasons:
1) it doesn’t take up as much storage space,
2) it has an incredibly long warranty, and won’t break down and need replacing near as often as an electric can opener will (if it ever breaks down),
3) it cost a LOT less than an electric can opener,
4) it does not use electricity like an electric can opener (every little bit helps),
5) it doesn’t take any longer to open a can manually than it does with an electric can opener
6) it is quieter than an electric can opener
7) it is just plain classier to have a well-built manual can opener than those darn electric gadgets wasting space, electricity and money.

I have always used a manual grater. I have never owned a food processor, though once I was given a salad shooter (I hated it). This particular grater was inherited when my parents passed away.

The potato masher is the same way. It came from my parents. My mother had 2 but one disappeared over the years. When I got older she started using an electric mixer to make our mashed potatoes. I remember the noise, the mess as it splattered everything, always having to clean up after it, wiping off the machine and washing those infernal beaters (which were never together when you wanted them so dinner was always late) – and the potatoes never had the occasional chunk that makes homemade mashed potatoes so special.

I looked long and hard to replace the hand mixer that my mother used to have. I assume she tossed her old one when she bought the electric mixer, but I have fond memories of making cakes and dream whip using that handy little device! It was quieter, it never broke down, you don’t have to plug it in and you never have to worry about losing a beater? Hence my manual mixer. If I ever locate my electric one and both beaters to freecycle it will go – I detest that useless messy thing!

As you can tell, I have a preference for manual devices instead of electric gadgets. After years of watching things break right before the novelty wears off I have learned my lesson. Planned obsolescence and breakdowns can kiss my grits!