Tag Archives: efficiency

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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Filed under food, How to

Does Size Really Matter?

TVWe hear men boasting about the size of theirs all the time and how bigger is better. We also hear from some women who say it is not really the size that matters, but it’s more about the quality of the experience that counts.

Of course I am referring to… televisions.

About 3 years ago, I called one of those junk disposal services to come over and haul away my 27 inch tube-style TV. The beast, as I called it, was still a perfectly good TV but was not keeping up with technology that was going digital and HD. Watching HD programs on an old standard TV was like watching shows from another planet as it never fully filled out the screen and would sometimes go wonky on me. Sometimes the image was zoomed in, sometimes it was zoomed out. It made me dizzy. It was time to step it up… technologically speaking.

Let’s not forget as well the beast of a stand it took to support a TV of that weight. The two guys from the junk disposal service were grunting pretty hard as they were dragging it out.
The shiny new TV I bought to replace it was a 40 inch flat screen LED smart TV, weighing considerably less. The new TV was actually more awkward to carry than it was heavy, but still, bringing it and its stand home was a one-man job which I handled easily enough. I felt like Superman carrying a 40 inch TV over the threshold, all on my own.

Given the size and layout of my living room, 40 inches was plenty big to view from any seat in the room, from any angle, even with the eyesight of an almost quinquagenarian.

At that time, of course, there were larger televisions out there, but 40 inches was probably on the cusp between medium and large size at that time. In any case, I have never regretted that choice.

Even though that was just 3 years ago, if you walk into any television dealer, the 40 inch TVs are looking puny when compared to other TVs seemingly up to twice their size now.

The next question is why? Continue reading


Filed under 50+, Humour, TV

My Obsession With Lists

ListsThe road of life is littered with my lists… To-do lists, shopping lists, wish lists, bucket list, lists of books I want to read, lists of songs I want to buy on iTunes, lists of topics I want to cover in my blog, lists of wine I have tried and liked (…because after a good glass of wine I can barely remember my own name, let alone the name of a winery, its country and variety). The lists can take multiple forms: electronic lists on my iPhone, scrap paper, post-it notes, napkins, special “list” pads, toilet paper, whatever is closest when the inspiration strikes.

I am often tempted to make a master list of all the lists I have but that just seems extreme… so I keep several of them in Continue reading


Filed under Humour