Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting It Together: The Kitchen, Phases 1 and 2

One of my not-really-a-resolution-but-yeah-I'll-get-on-that-after-the-holidays goals is to, well, get my shit together. 

Nothing like having "specific, measurable goals" huh? 

As you can imagine, this is a multi-part project, but one major part is to get rid of a bunch of crap that we don't need, and get the crap that we are keeping more organized. 

We made huge strides in the getting-rid-of department last weekend, when we took a car full of Peeper's outgrown clothes to the MOMS Club yard sale, and this week, I've been working on the getting-organized part. 

I guess I was, in part, spurred on by the sudden possibility of reclaiming the laundry room from the realm of the cat poop, now that we've got no kitties to poop in there. 

After we came home from the vet on Monday, pretty much the first thing I did was get BoyCat's things cleaned up (sort of) and gathered up to "give to some kitties that need them" (at the animal shelter), and start on cleaning up that room. 

I didn't think to take before photos, and even if I had, I don't know that I'd share them, because really, it was pretty awful. It's nowhere near ready for an after photo yet, but you can be sure I'll be posting them when it is. 

I have been wanting a steam mop for a while, because I'd convinced myself that one of those would actually be able to clean the under-the-cabinets part of the kitchen floor, and possibly even the cat-poop-germy part of the laundry room.

Shrike's been resisting because, well, because it's me, and no matter how fancy the steam mop is, it doesn't get up and push itself across the floor. Nor do I.

In these discussions, I've said that I wanted to at least borrow one "some day, a long, long time from now, when we are sadly catless," to sterilize the floor in there. (If they don't actually sterilize the floor, please don't tell me.)

As luck would have it, just as we became sadly catless, they were on sale at Big Lots! They were advertising one for $25, which is an incredible price, if it's not a crappy mop. 

Of course, when we got that one home, I discovered that it was broken, and when I took it back, I found out that it was the only one of that model, so I ended up with a $34 steam mop. 

It has already been well worth the price. 

Here's an example of what it did on the part-the-regular-mop-can't-reach yucky stuff under the counter: 

Before. Ew.

After. Ahhh! (There's still a bit that it couldn't reach, but it's much better.

This is what the cleaning pad looked like after doing the whole kitchen. Ew again. It just pops right in the washing machine though, which is cool. The $25 model had two pads. That would be nice.

Aaaannd, ten minutes later? Muddy paw prints. Of course. 

Peeper suggested that we wipe them up with a dishtowel. Hmmm, I'd never thought of that! She also helped me. "I wiw cwean over in dis area. You cwean in dat area." (yes, seriously.)

Friday, while Shrike was at work, I finally got fed up with the "snack cabinet" and decided to do something about it. Again, I have no before photo. I don't have many before photos, because it seems like at each step, I am well into the project before I realized that "Yeah, I'm really going to do this, and I should have documented it." Ooops.

I threw out a bunch of stuff and then organized what was left. That included a trip to Target, where I got these baskets with handles (perfect for pulling them down to dig through them) in the Dollar Spot, $2.50 for the pair. I need to get back over there and get a couple more for the top shelf, which is currently empty, because we really can't reach anything up there. But we both tested it, and I we can reach the basket handle, even up top, so that's the plan. 

Right now, the baskets are holding a wide variety of fruity things - fruit bites and twists on the right and "white" and "pink" (yogurt and strawberry yogurt) raisins, banana chips and strawberry "chips" (dried strawberries). That's the dregs of a box of Sharks next to them. (Aldi's version of Goldfish.) 

Below are rice cakes, which had been hiding on the top shelf for who knows how long. I guess they don't really get stale, or not so a three year old can tell, though, because Peeper ate at least six of them that night, when she discovered that they were there!

Next to those are a variety of fruit bars in an old cookie tin, and then some various packets - drink mixes, jello, etc, on top of the little shelf, bag clips clipped all over it and a few weird things underneath. And candy canes. Those are gone now. 

This is the "really need to go to the grocery store" version of the snack cabinet. Normally there would be a lot more Goldfish and Teddy Grahams a lot less fruit and rice cakes. Sad, but true.

After the snack cabinet (or during, technically, because it was before the trip to Target), I also tackled the silverware and "gadget" drawers. 

This one had been holding measuring cups and spoons and a million miscellaneous cup and bottle lids, plus various other things like bottle openers and wine stoppers and other things that we never use any more. Now it's measuring devices and our most commonly used lids - the ones to each of our favorite sippy cups. 

The baskets are what I actually went to Target for, but it turned out that they were at Staples. The larger ones are two for a dollar, and the little ones are three for a dollar. I'm going back for more of those, too. 

Where did all the lids go? Oh, there they are! This drawer used to hold, well, pretty much everything else. Now it's straws (which we'll be using regularly when I start making smoothies again) and more lids. I'm not really sure yet what's happening with all the lids, some of the repurposed jars and bottles will probably go, which will help a lot there. That's mostly what's in the basket at the top of the photo.  

This is the bottom drawer, which was a big mess. It wouldn't shut all the way (see the after photo of the floor, above) so there were all kinds of food drips and crumbs in the front couple of inches of it, and it held mostly stuff that we didn't use much, but also the straws, which I was never thrilled about, because its non-closiness just made it all seem kind of icky.

Now it's again holding things we don't use much, but in a much more logical way. For starters, I was able to pull it all the way out and remove the funnel that had fallen behind it, so how it closes. Yay!

Then, I moved all the grilling utensils from the upper drawer down to this one, and clipped the skewers together so that they're not going every which way, and they only ended up taking up a little bit of the drawer, instead of being in the way all over the place in the other one. The basket is holding specialty cutting things, like the grater, avocado slicer, apple corer/slicer and french fry slicer, as well as one cork screw and one church key can / bottle opener (instead of about five wine/bottle/can openers), a couple of wine stoppers (one can dream, right?) and a few other little weird gadgets. I can't remember the last time I used any of those things.

When that photo was taken, there were still a few things in the dishwasher. I've since added a grilling basket, a stack of funnels and some taco holders to this drawer.

As I was going through these drawers, I boxed up a ton of stuff to get rid of - like all those other can / bottle / wine openers.

I didn't bother taking a photo of the regular silverware drawer, but I did some work in there, too. I added various knives, forks and spoons that I found in the other drawers, and revamped my sharps storage a bit.

A million years ago, (seriously, I think it was 1995?) LadyKay gave me a set of Ginsu knives for Christmas and I loved them. They didn't come with a block, though, so somewhere along the way, in our early years in this house, I think, I bought an empty one at a yard sale. The slot for the butcher knife wasn't quite big enough, so it stuck up a bit, and the other slots weren't the right size or number, and there were no places for the steak knives, but we managed.

Then  I got three ceramic knives - a butcher and two paring - for Christmas last year, and had nowhere to put them, so they went in the back part of the silverware drawer.

(The drawer has built-in dividers, just three "vertical" compartments up front, where all the "regular" forks, spoons and knives go, just jumbled up in their respective bins, and then the back part.)

The Ginsus were still supposed to be in the block, but we could never get it right, so it was usually empty, and taking up a bunch of space on the counter, so I ditched it.

I added one of the small baskets for peelers and other sharp-things-that-aren't-knives-and-are-rarely-used, and that's way in the back, then all the knives (and the scissors, because I use them a lot) are right behind the regular stuff.

I'm not overly thrilled with reaching into a drawer full of sharp things, but I'm careful to put them in with all the blades on the left and all the handles on the right. Since I'm right handed, I'm reaching in to the right side anyway, and so far that's worked.

(Having said that, I probably ought to go ahead and schedule a post for tomorrow about my trip to the ER to sew a finger back on or something.)

This set-up also puts all the sharp things in the back of the top drawer, furthest from Peeper's reach.

(And, have said that, we'll probably be getting a two-for-one deal on finger stitches.)

 I've done a couple of other little miscellaneous things over the past week or so.

Actually, this first one is Shrike's. And it's a funny story. As kitchen-organizing-stories go.

While I was in Texas, I was checking out Pinterest and found an idea about using magazine holders to organize canned goods in a pantry. I showed it to Anonymama - who, as you've seen, has a lot of canned goods - and she loved the idea.

So, Peeper and I picked up a couple of different kinds at Target, but they were both too narrow for the cans and too tall for her pantry. Boooo.

But, I'd seen another idea about using them to corral boxes of wraps (plastic, foil, etc) and thought that would work great, because she just had those sitting out on the counter, so they are easy to get to.

I stuck them all in one, and she was thrilled. (I later learned that she's using the other one to corral cans of non-stick spray; she uses several varieties - plain, butter, olive oil, etc.)

When I got home, what did I find on our kitchen counter?


I asked Shrike if I'd told her about doing that at my moms, and she said "No, I saw it on Pinterest."

Now, we follow a lot of the same people, so maybe it wasn't my repin that she saw, but it very well could have been.

I'm not sure I'm thrilled with how these look sitting out on the counter, but they are certainly freeing up a lot of room in the drawer that they used to live in, which makes more space for the ziplocks that also live there.

The thing about getting rid of the knife block was part of a whole big rearrangement of small appliances and other thingies in the corner where all the action happens. To summarize, the knife block went away, the toaster and my new coffee maker traded places, and I put all my coffee syrups (Merry Christmas to me) where the toaster and knife block were, and corralled them on a tray that some sort of food came on one time, and had been washed and stuck with Peeper's art things.

No, we're not taking that many drugs. That's actually several empty bottles from the same prescription, waiting to be recycled or something. I don't know. Shrike has a plan.

And here's the other half of that area.

Hmmm. I just realized that I am actually telling this story a little bit out of order.

The syrups are supposed to have pumps. I had three pumps and somehow they have disappeared. Shrike has finally admitted that she thinks she might have thrown them away when she threw out the last batch of empty bottles, because she didn't realize that they had to be purchased separately, but at the time that I did this, I was still operating on the assumption that they have to be here somewhere.

That's actually what prompted the drawer clean-out and reorganization project. But I just don't have it in me to go back and re-order this post, so screw it.

Consider it a stream-of-consciousness sort of thing. You know, me and James Joyce, we're practically the same writer.

Today, I tackled what turned out to be a much bigger project than I had intended.

Actually - again with the stream of consciousness - our first project of the day was to finally get rid of the crib/youth bed!

Our friend A came over with little J, Shrike and I loaded all the parts up into the truck while J and Peeper played and A stayed with them to keep J from freaking out about Mommy is leaving! Then Shrike followed A down to her storage building and unloaded it all, and the bed is now waiting for J to be ready to move out of Mommy's bed and get a "Big Girl Bed" of her own.

While Shrike was gone, I started to sit down and try to figure out what we might want to eat over the next couple of weeks, so I could make a grocery list. Before I got very far with that, I thought I ought to get the old leftovers out of the fridge, to make room for the food.

Then I got carried away. In a big way.

First I got all the yucky leftovers out. Oh, that's where all my not-Tupperware is.

Then I decided that the fridge itself was disgusting, so I took out all the food, and tossed anything out of date. This is what was left.

Looking at the empty fridge, it was obvious that nothing short of pulling out all the shelves and drawers and giving them a bath in the sink was going to be sufficient for dealing with the grossness.

(Note to self: Never, ever, ever buy red Koolaid again. Or food.)

Once I had the interior of the fridge clean, of course, I had to do the freezer, too.

I started on that by taking out all the various ice packs that we received with shipments of fertility drugs (and one from the damn Similac "breastfeeding gift bag" (WTF?) that we got when Peeper was born) and putting them away. Getting rid of those and the frozen bottles of water pretty much emptied it. What on earth did we think we were going to need to ice down?

When I saw how little food was left in there, I moved some in from the "annex" refrigerator, and then I noticed that it was dirty, too, so I started cleaning it.

Now, let me explain about the "annex" - One day Shrike used that term to refer to the pantry in the laundry room, which we were using to hold a few overflow groceries. Since then, it's become our primary pantry, but the term has stuck, for both the pantry and the fridge that are in that room.

That fridge is actually one that I bought many moons ago, when my old roommate and I moved into a house that didn't have one. Since I quit living with her, I've only lived in places that already had a fridge, so I've always had two. This one has usually been our main one, and we've used the smaller, not-as-fancy one that came with the place for overflow.

Except here. I'm not quite sure why, but for eight and a half years, we've been using the smaller fridge for our every-day food, and only sticking overflow, stock-ups and party food in the good fridge.

Until today.

As I was cleaning it, I started noticing how much bigger it is, and how much more stuff it has, and how you can configure it in more ways, to fit your needs, and how the produce bins are clear, so you can actually see that you own fruits and veggies, and maybe even eat them (I'd just declared, while cleaning the other fridge, that I am actually going to start putting produce in the produce drawers again, and try really, really hard to remember that it's there.) and it has an ice maker that maybe someday could actually have water connected to it, if someone who knew how to do such things would be willing to do it.

Well, I guess you know were this is going by now.

I got out the tape measure and found out that the big fridge would fit - by millimeters - in the space in the kitchen, and nothing for it, but I was going to move these damn things. Today. Before I fill them up with food.

If you're thinking that it must have been a big job to move two fridges all the way across the kitchen and switch their locations, you don't know the half of it. You don't know the tenth of it.

Cleaning them out was a big job, and moving them wasn't easy at all - the big fridge only cleared the doorway by millimeters (maybe two of them, literally) and that was after taking off the door handles, but the biggest thing was cleaning up behind and underneath them. 

Steam mop to the rescue!

(And vacuum cleaner, and Lysol and paper towels pushed around with a broom, and Swiffer mop. But mostly steam mop.)

I did not take before and after photos of that, either, because I would just be way too mortified for you to see them.

We have lived here for eight and a half years. This is the first time either fridge has been moved. For all of that time, we've had pets - five of them for most of it, very sheddy pets - and the big fridge was in the room where GirlCat spent most of her time. Mostly shedding, evidently. 

Honestly, between the stuff on the coils and the stuff on the door seals, I don't know how either one of these things managed to get below room temperature. 

But now, they are sparkling clean, and in their new homes, with sparkling sufficiently clean floors beneath them!

See what I mean about it just barely fitting?

The freezer. See what I mean about needing to go to the grocery store? 

The fridge. We really need to go to the grocery store. As you can see, there was no cooking happening tonight. Papa John's to the rescue. 

But I can make you some quesadillas. 

Damn, we have a lot of magnets. Why didn't it look like this many before? On a smaller fridge? 

And here's the little fridge in its new home, with its magnets. I put all the photos that we don't want Peeper to pull off and play with out here. 

Have I ever showed you this? This is MamaCat and her babies when they were brand new. In fact, in the top center photo, she's pregnant with them. How cute her is tummy when she's standing up like that?

The top right photo is BoyCat and GirlCat and all the others are of all four of them. You can pretty easily identify BoyCat in most of them, as he's the only stripy one. You can sort of tell GirlCat, because she was, ironically, the runt of the litter. (She got over it.)

Whew. I thought I was tired after doing all that, but I'm even tired-er after writing about it.

And you're probably nodding off after reading it. 


  1. Last year my entire kitchen was gutted and re-done so everything down to the last spoon had to go in boxes in the basement. When the reno was done we threw out a lot of stuff as we brought the boxes back up. I love my new kitchen but I still hate organizing things and throwing things out. (in other words, cleaning.) Only the new kitchen made me do it. Now for the laundry room where the guinea pig lives, who has been kicking wood chips and poop out of his cage for SEVEN years. How do I move the washer and dryer to clean the horror which I know is under them? And how long do guinea pigs live, anyway?

  2. That sounds muck like our laundry room, but replace "guinea pig" with "cats" and "wood chips" with "kitty litter." Leave in the poop.

    Check back here in a few days to see how my move the washer and dry and clean under them project goes.

    They actually aren't nearly as heavy as they look, they're mostly empty space, so it shouldn't be too hard to scoot them around to get under them.

  3. i. am. impressed. and i am soooo envious... organinging SO needs to be done in our kitchen. and closets. and bedrooms. and it is so not happening any time soon. good job!

  4. You need a like button on your blog posts :-)
    It is wonderful, thank you!

  5. I have a similar idea about the "getting things together" thing. The plan is that it will happen:
    1. When the holidays are over. (Check.)
    2. When we are finally well (Sorta...)
    3. Most importantly, when Frappa moves out - and that is happening TOMORROW.

    I'm going to miss her, but when she leaves I will inherit a whole room, which includes a closet and a wall of shelves; at least two kitchen cabinets; an entire shelf in the pantry; a shelf in the fridge; and at least a shelf in the freezer. Oh, and a couple of shelves in the hall bathroom.

    Oh, oh, and I will get my garage back. It is full of furniture she has been collecting for months in preparation for the big move.

    I have a fantasy that all I need is the extra space and I will be able to be miraculously organized. We'll see how it goes.


What say you?