Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Week 2: Get in the Zone

When I got married 14 years ago, and moved into our first apartment together, it was novel, the idea of having my own kitchen, with my own kitchen utensils and pans and pots, etc.

the only shot I could find of our galley kitchen....that really was all of it...

As I was looking to put things away in our tiny galley kitchen I put things where I thought they made the most sense at the time (in my 20-year-old, never had my own kitchen head).

Over the months things felt herky-jerky and didn't really have a flow as I tried to get accustomed to my own kitchen. And I realized with a bit of shock: I was acting like my mom. Ha!

I had laid out my kitchen, and where I put things in the cupboards, in places that I was familiar with: like my mom's kitchen.

But what made sense in my mom's kitchen, did not necessarily make sense in mine. So, I set about rearranging and putting things in places that made more sense.  And then Paul spent the next month trying to figure out where it all went....

That leads to this week's organizing: the kitchen cupboards and drawers and putting things in zones that make sense.  Cupboards and drawers can easily become a jumble of things because you can shut the door. But when things start falling out when you open the door, and the drawer won't open all the way because something is blocking it, well, it's time to sort and purge.

Our kitchen is made up of cupboards up top and a number of drawers below. I LOVE the idea of drawers on the bottom and really wish that the remaining cupboards below would become drawers. This is a fantasy and pipe dream that may become fact when the kids move out. Until then, I work with what I have!

For cupboards and drawers the rule I use is "one motion to reach."  Obviously some of that was needed with this cupboard.

This is the baking cupboard - the Baking Zone. So all things that I would be reaching for, for baking, are sorted into this cupboard. The larger items like flour and surar had to go in the cupboard beside because their containers are a bit too tall for this space.

Everything was pulled out, sorted into groups that made sense and put back into the cupboard in those groups. I used a random basket I had in storage to cull all the sprinkles and birthday candles. Square baskets (that take up less room than round ones) and large Rubbermaid containers, whose lids have gone the way of the lost, work well to group small items that would otherwise get lost in this space. That way I can just pull out the basket and have all I need right there without it all falling on my head or having to pull out a bunch of other things to get to it.

I used that container thought in these three cupboards as well: one to catch all my boxes of tea, one to hold all the cold medicine, and one to hold extra popcorn and spices. Which, that leads me to another thing: when everything is shoved in a cupboard I kind of forget whats in there! I had WAY more tea than I thought because I would buy what I thought I had run out of. In reality, it was just shoved to the back of the cupboard.

This drawers is the Eating Zone. It's one step from the dishwasher, making it easy to put stuff away, right below the eating utensils, and low so the kids have a part in putting items away and helping set the table.
Now...paring down the plates, bowls, cups....
I had the thought that there are only 5 people who eat in this house on a regular basis....why do I have enough to plate 20?  We regularly do dishes as well, so never is this drawer empty because we've used everything. So, I pulled out extra plates, bowls, and left what we would go through in 1.5 days. I gave myself a buffer of half a day because, although we do dishes daily, there may be an off chance that it doesn't happen. We still have plenty in the drawer to use. Plus, it just seems SO much simpler and less cluttered!

Utensil drawers: that is one place that can really get away from me!

When I started working at Gateway Woods, one thing I had to get used to was that all the knives were locked up in a drawer. It felt so funny having to get a knife out of a drawer. But now, I love the fact that I don't have a knife block on my counter - one less thing!

So, I bought a magnetic knife rack from IKEA that is supposed to hang on your wall and put it in a drawer instead. Now, my knives are all lined up and that wooden block is off my counter. And nope, I have not noticed my knives getting dull from this. 2 years and we're doing well.

These days you can buy a gadget for just about every cooking and baking task there is. If that is your thing - go for it. It is not mine. Less is more. So, I try to have utensils that can do more than one thing, or find a way for it to do more than one thing. It keeps utensil drawers uncluttered and allows me to do the one reach rule - no rooting around.

The two drawers above are part of the Cooking Zone. They are right beside the stove so it's easy for me to reach in and grab a spoon for stirring.  I also chose to go with a drawer for these things versus a container on the counter to hold them all. One less thing on the counter is a good thing in my book.

The only 'gadgets' I own...

One final zone to address: the storage containers...

They seem to breed don't they? I finally had to call it and start pulling things. I pulled out all the ones that had stains, ones that didn't have any lids to match (or vice versa) and duplicates. I ended with about 20 containers of various sizes that would be sufficient to contain leftovers and packed lunches.
They rest were either recycled or passed on.

I have two drawers that I use for the containers. I have found it's easiest for all involved if all the containers are stacked in one drawer and all the corresponding lids are in another.

 I'm not sure how my amount of drawers compares to what you have in your kitchen. But, I feel the need to prioritize and make the most of the space that I have. So, one thing that did not make the cut in this kitchen: the junk drawer.

You may think that it is impossible to go without a catchall drawer. I at one time thought the same. But, once I eliminated it I found that it wasn't needed. Those little things that didn't have a home somehow found where they were supposed to go since there wasn't a little 'stopping place' along the way. I have yet to miss that thing.

Whew. I am glad that part is done. School was cancelled today and e-learning just about derailed me, but we got it done!  Don't let hiccups in your plan become roadblocks. They are merely chances for you to flex and think outside the box! Now go throw out some plastic food containers and decide if you really want to organize that junk drawer one more time....or get rid of it..... ;)

 Oh, and just because I'm reminiscing on our kitchens of days past.....look at all those cupboards! We had so much space I wasn't even using it all.....sigh.

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