Tag Archives: budget

How I Organized My Kitchen on a Budget

“A place for everything and everything in its place” was the advice I was given as a child when I misplaced something, which I have to admit was often enough.

But whenever I had a chance to put things in order and to give things a designated spot (and I made sure to return the objects to their designated spot after use), it seemed that losing, misplacing and hunting for things became a rare occurrence. Mom and Dad’s advice was proven right, again and again.

I was working in the kitchen a few days ago when I realized that my kitchen was not following that mantra. I had teas scattered in three different cupboards. I had bags of bulk store products piled on top of one another and sliding off each other. Even my cat’s cupboard was becoming an avalanche-waiting-to-happen.

My spring cleaning instinct went into overdrive. It was time to tame these cupboards and get the kitchen organized once and for all!

It’s not like I’ve never done this before. A few years ago, I containerized the different kinds of gluten-free flour I needed, just to keep them clearly identified and organized. Gluten-free recipes were a breeze when I could tell my tapioca starch from the potato starch, and the white rice flour from the sweet rice flour. Every time I baked or brought back more flour from the store, I was so thankful that I had this section so neatly organized.

It was time to apply the same makeover technique to the rest of the kitchen.

When it comes to kitchen items, I see two main problems: shapeless objects and small objects.

The shapeless objects are those bagged items like chocolate chips or bulk store items that don’t stack well, creating a moving blob in the cabinet, consuming horizontal space and little vertical space. Small objects like the little bottles of flavour extracts (almond, orange and vanilla) stay in place nicely, but if I accidentally knock one over while reaching for something behind them, I knock them all over.

Another side issue is depth. If we can make use of the full depth of the cabinets, storage potential is multiplied. The problem is how to stay on top of what’s at the very back of the shelf.

To me, the answer is containers.

The first step was a quick edit of the contents of my cabinets and pantry. I tossed out anything that was in the process of going stale, that I honestly knew I wasn’t going to use, or that had expired. One garbage bag later, and with free space opening up, I was well on my way.

The next step was to measure those cabinets carefully (from the inside!) and to get a sense of how much free space I had to work with. I then went to a discount store to check out how their containers measured up and compared to my free space.

To maximize my use of space, I avoided looking at containers that were cylindrical. Those barrel-shaped containers lose too much space in the square angles of rectangular cupboards.

I then bought three different “prototype” containers (that seemed to fit within the boundaries of my cabinet measurements) to see how they might fit and stack up in my pantry and cupboard shelves. With those prototypes, I was able to see what fit the best and to imagine how many containers could fit in a row to best fill in the space.

I then returned to the store and started buying containers 3 or 4 at a time, just enough to fill up a row. I didn’t buy more than that as I wanted to reserve the right to change my mind and relocate them to another shelf later if needed.

Then I washed and thoroughly dried the containers and filled them with items that seemed to be within the same “category”. And then out came the label maker for the last finishing touch, to let me know what was in the container.

With one row finished, I’d take a step back, mentally high-five myself for what I had accomplished, and then start thinking about the next row to tackle a day or two later.

The time between rows allowed me to consider what other objects could logically be combined into a container, which size container was needed, and where to place it (is it something I use daily, weekly or just a few times per year?) Before I knew it, in my mind I had my kitchen already rearranged.

The best part is that discount stores have containers of so many different shapes, sizes and materials, it is pretty easy to reorganize a kitchen on a limited budget.

The first recipes I did after the kitchen cabinet makeover went so smoothly. I am certain I saved time and effort in not having to hunt for any of the ingredients or the tools I needed, because I had “a place for everything and everything in its place”.

Thanks again, Mom and Dad!

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under food, How to

Electronic Transactions, Missed Opportunities?

There is no disputing that direct deposits and pre-authorized withdrawals have made personal finances much simpler.

Even if I am on vacation or feeling under the weather, it no longer matters if I am in the office on pay day. The money shows up in my account and shortly thereafter, the money comes out for the mortgage and utilities. (Easy come, easy go!) It is certainly convenient and saves me from standing in line to go pay the bills in person.

But in adopting this convenience, have we also phased out unique moments of joy? Are we missing out on moments to enjoy the fruits of one’s labour, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the incentive for why we work to earn a living?

Do you remember the thrill of your first job and getting paid for the first time? That was a feeling of power, wasn’t it? And do you remember the fleeting sense of financial independence and going to spend it on pizza, clothes, shoes, camera gear and journals… or maybe that was just me.

But the point is that there was a natural ebb and flow to earning, saving and spending. Receiving a paycheque was validating, rewarding and made me feel like I really made a contribution. The ritual of walking up to a teller or a bank machine and depositing this piece of paper that was the result of two weeks of blood, sweat and tears actually made me happy. It was also a motivator.
But now, with direct deposit and automatic withdrawals going on autopilot, I barely remember what week is pay week anymore.

A fond memory from the early years of my career, working as an assistant, was when the secretary was not in the office, I would be the one tasked with distributing the envelopes containing the paycheques. The warm reception and the smiles on people’s faces were something I will never forget. I even remember thinking to myself that this is what “spreading sunshine” is all about, making people happy like this. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Inspiring, Uncategorized

Ivy’s Top 10 Cat Toys (For Now)

Cat and Tissue PaperWhen Ivy the Wonder Cat first joined me a year ago, I admit that I got a little carried away on buying cat toys. Manufacturers sure know how to pull on the heartstrings of pet owners with every possible combination and permutation of interesting, fun and cute. There are many brilliant ideas out there!

I would take home the new toy, with the best of intentions and highest of hopes, only to find her more interested in the packaging, or going into my work bag and getting a good sniff of my lunch container. But sometimes, when I look away or leave the room, something clicks and it becomes a new favourite… or not.

And of course each cat is different. A favourite toy for one can get virtually ignored by another. And the big hit today, might not get a second look a few months from now, no matter how much catnip gets sprinkled on it.

Just the same, Miss Ivy does have a few favourites among the commercially produced toys that did turn out to be excellent value for money.

But what surprised me most over the past year was the discovery that simple, inexpensive items around the house, can become favourite items in her toy box. These items can be quickly replaced, refreshed and rotated through to engage her in fun play.

When combined with a few relatively inexpensive commercially available products, Ivy’s toy box is very affordable and offers her the stimulation she needs for the active, extroverted kitty she is.
Here they are, Ivy’s top 10 cat toys (at the moment): Continue reading

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Filed under Cats, Humour, Top 10

It’s 7:00 P.M., Start Your Engines!

SevenOclockAt the best of times, household chores can be a challenge, given the busy pace of life, the many activities in which families engage, and frankly, interest and energy after a hard day’s work. But factor in “time of use” electricity rates and it’s a wonder I ever get anything done.

For a few years now, electricity rates here have been determined by the time of day at which they are consumed. At peak demand times, the rates are higher. When demand is low, electricity rates are cheaper. In a nutshell, the lowest rates are on Saturdays, Sundays and evenings after 7:00 p.m.

Has this changed the pattern in which I use electricity? You bet it did!

When inspiration and energy are there, from the time I get home until 7:00 p.m., I find myself in preparation mode: sorting laundry, loading the dishwasher, prepping ingredients, cleaning bathrooms, scooping or cleaning the litter box and doing chores that don’t consume much electricity. But at 7:01, the rubber gloves are off, the running shoes are on and as if a starter’s pistol was shot, I run around the house, turning on the electrical appliances.

Not only is this multi-tasking at its best, but it is also how I keep my cardio up in the running off-season.

I sometimes imagine myself causing a neighbourhood-wide brown-out by flicking on the dryer, the washer, the oven, the dishwasher and anything else that happens to be on, all within the same minute. It hasn’t happened yet, but wow, what power that would be!

I admit that there are times that I wish we could turn back time, and be able to run the appliances whenever we feel like it and not face the jolting experience of an inflated electricity bill. Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Misc blogs