Tag Archives: spring cleaning

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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Have a great day,
André

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Spring Cleaning: Not Just for Spring Anymore

Not too long ago, a friend asked me what I was up to over the weekend and one of the first things out of my mouth was “spring cleaning”. His laughter spoke volumes because at the time, we weren’t anywhere near spring.

The issue, as he pointed out, is that spring cleaning seems to get slipped into conversation 52 weeks of my year. He is right. If I were to promote spring cleaning, my slogan would be “spring cleaning: it’s not just for spring anymore”.

Who has time for spring cleaning in the spring?

After 4-5 months of grey skies, snow, ice and cold temperatures, we Canadians come out of our wintry shells and spend time outdoors to do something …anything!… to get away from the confines of the 4 walls we call home. As much as we may enjoy hibernating and cocooning on the couch with Netflix, ketchup chips, poutine, crispy bacon or anything involving maple syrup, when we don’t HAVE to cocoon anymore, we are outta there!

After being caged up for a season and a half, we become possessed by a heightened appetite for freedom.

When the days are getting longer, temperatures are soaring and our long underwear has been put away for the season, why would we stay home and clean? With the calendar filling with invitations to barbecues and outdoor festivals popping up every weekend, spring cleaning in spring seems so wrong on so many levels.

The season of choice for spring cleaning defies logic to a Canadian. Continue reading

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Am I a Hoarder If I Still Have a Trophy From 1979?

TrophiesAs I mentally prepare for this year’s round of spring cleaning, I already dread opening that same box I open every year: the box of trophies and awards. Every year I am stumped with the same questions: keep them, toss them, donate them or repurpose them?

… And then they go back into the box as I defer the decision to the next year, and the next one, and the next one.

What makes the decision so difficult is that behind every trophy is a great deal of hard work, dedication, discipline, and blood, sweat and tears on my part. Of course the latter are just metaphorically speaking; Grade 8 in suburbia was far from “The Hunger Games”.

At the same time, behind every trophy is a judge or a panel of judges, who took time out of their busy schedules to consider my work and to so generously bestow this symbol of recognition.

To me, the trophy represents an act of extreme kindness and generosity, which still humbles me today, still elicits a great deal of gratitude and frankly, “guilts” me into hanging on to this symbol.

And then I consider the possibility that there may be a colleague who worked harder than I did, yet did not receive recognition for their accomplishment. They could possibly be thinking that I am an ungrateful brat for even considering tossing a trophy I received …37 years ago.

But the big question is this: at the time of the recognition, did the judge or panel of judges truly expect me to hang on to the trophy until I am pushing daisies? Continue reading

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Filed under Humour, Misc blogs, Running

Preparing for the Repair Guy

A couple of months ago, I was off for a few days to take care of some home maintenance. The first day, I was expecting a windows guy to come over to inspect (and hopefully re-insulate) a recently-installed window as cold air was seemingly seeping through. On the second day, the insulation in my attic was getting topped up. Let’s face it, finding drafts and eradicating them is a key deliverable in the job description of being a middle-aged man.

The weekend prior, I did what anyone would do before anyone comes over. I cleaned the house. The error of my ways became evident when my partner pointed out, “Won’t you need to clean up AFTER they have done their work?”

He was right though. Why is it that when tradespeople are coming over, I clean the house to the same extent as I would if I was entertaining guests?

Hmmm… Lightbulb moment!

The fact is that anytime someone is coming to fix or check something in the house, I will make the extra effort to clear furniture out of the way in order to give them lots of room to work, as well as to ensure that there are no breakables within proximity for them to worry about. To me it just makes common sense and helps them to do a better job if they aren’t worrying about “stuff” surrounding them.

But in the process of pulling furniture out of the way, I might possibly reveal dust bunnies lurking in places that aren’t usually in the vacuum cleaner’s path over the course of regular housecleaning. I can’t leave those there… so out comes the vacuum cleaner.

And when I pulled out the furniture, it appeared that I had left a little scuff on the wall, so out came the microfibre cleaning cloths and my trusty all-purpose cleaner.

Of course, once you have one corner of the room spruced up and neat as a pin, you can’t just leave the rest of the room undone. Continue reading

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The Conquering Clutter Resolution

Spring CleaningIn my journey of exploring life, I have held many interests and tried many hobbies over the years, each attracting its own “stuff”. The problem is that when life gets busy, attention is diverted and in some cases, the passing interest fades but the “stuff” remains and sometimes accumulates into clutter.

I completely sympathize with folks (like those on the television show “Hoarders”) who say that they did not notice it accumulating. (Parenthetically, 5 minutes of watching the show “Hoarders” sends me scrambling to de-clutter something). I admit, there have been moments when I realized I was running out of space and reorganizing the same cupboard or closet for the 20th time when I would stop and wonder: do I have too much stuff?

As a child who frequently misplaced things, the motto “a place for everything and everything in its place” was instilled in me.. um.. well.. at least my parents tried to instill in me to the best of their ability. When I was very young, there was a firm rule that before my birthday and Christmas I had to go through my old toys in the basement and pick some to be donated in order to make some room, otherwise Santa Claus couldn’t deliver new ones.

Similarly, when it came to clothes, every September, we would get a new set of shirts and pants for the new school year. The set from the year before (if they still fit) became my “play clothes”, and the set from the year before would be up for donation.

Unfortunately, there were times in my adult life I didn’t always have time to apply that logic. Chalk it up to Continue reading

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Filed under How to, Misc blogs

The Experiment

A few years ago, I had a twinge of entrepreneurial spirit after a productive round of spring cleaning and purging… Well, actually, the TV show “Hoarders” scared me into spring cleaning. Not that my house ever remotely looked like the ones on the show but 5 minutes of that show is like a kick in the OCD!

I decided that rather than donating the items I was ready to part with, I would try my hand at selling some items on-line and try to make some money at it. For my first attempt, I wanted to start small and call it a one-month “pilot project” to give it a fair shot. I decided to start with books and CDs. Continue reading

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