Tuesday, January 14, 2014

AT's January Cure: The kitchen. And then some.

You know that feeling when you’re totally exhausted, but still glad? That was me Sunday night. I knew the kitchen cleaning and organizing task that is part of AT’s January Cure would be quite a bit of work, but I had no idea it was going to be this bad. I mean, I do believe that I have a fairly organized kitchen, after all, organizing drawers is something I’d do for fun (believe it or not), only to keep opening that drawer, smile at the nicely organized contents and close it again. Yes, that is something I like.

And yet, that kitchen task took me all weekend, and more. But let’s start with the beginning of the week.

Monday: get a fresh perspective

The theory is you sit in a spot for 10 minutes that you never sit in, and try to get a new perspective on a room. Ideally that makes you think of ways to improve the flow of a room or change that one thing that’s always been bugging you but you never really knew why.

I sat in the open door to my tiny entry, trying to figure out a way to make the flow of kids coming in with dirty shows, winter jackets, hat, scarves and school backpacks fit better into that little space. We had made some changes over the weekend as part of the floor cleaning task (LINK!!!), such as bringing in a stepstool leftover from the bathroom for little brother to sit on and take his shoes off. Still, that space feels cluttered and cramped. Well, actually it IS cluttered and cramped, because it’s just too small for four people and their stuff. I knew that when the floor plans of the house were being finalized, and yet I rather wanted some extra space in my kitchen and not in my entry.

We already keep extra coats, shoes and accessories tucked away in a nearby closet and have (labelled!) baskets for the kids’ hats and such, but still. But what I came up with is this:

-          that room really, really needs to be painted. And this time it’ll be painted white.
-          the coatrack holding the boys’ jackets needs to be hung higher – after all, we’ve lived here for close to five years and the kids have obviously grown a lot
-          I need to rethink the placement of that large mirror. I love it, but across from our coatrack it seems to visually double the coats. I will try to find another place for it and put a large-scale photograph in its place in an attempt to calm and widen the space
-          as already on my list (LINK!!!), I really need to find a new way to store those things like hairbrush and lipstick, preferably close to a smaller mirror
-          I need to remove as many things as possible from that room!

I also used my free morning on Monday to get a headstart on the kitchen and cleaned out the candy cabinet. I have absolutely no idea where all that stuff came from. It feels like I clean that out every month or so, and within no time at all it gets so cramped that the door will hardly close. This time, I had no mercy and threw a ton of stuff out, including all the cheap Halloween candy. I kept just as much as I can easily let my kids eat without having to worry, and I will have to have yet another serious talk with the grandparents about the sheer amount of sweets they bring. Two tiny bags with a kid-sized handful of gummybears are plenty, no need to buy the XXL bag for each boy. I mean, I found gummybears that were actually expired! And my kids love gummybears, but they can’t eat half a bag each day. Ugh. Such a waste.

Tuesday: Set up an outbox

That one was easy – put a large box into my storage closet. Done. Already added a few things to it. The weekend’s kitchen cleanout resulted in a separate outbox that we’ve put into the basement together with all the other things there that are waiting to be donated.

A lot of things that I purged also simply went into recycling or got dumped. Chipped bowls, expired foods and that gigantic surplus of chocolate.

Wednesday: Pick a project to cross off your list

Not quite sure about this one. I’d love to do some major living room re-arranging to make it less cramped and win back some wall space for floating shelves and ideally some large-scale art. But we’ll have to see how the month goes, and with half the family being sick last week, I called the living room project a bonus and focused on crossing a few of the kitchen things off my list while working on it over the weekend anyway.

Thursday: Prep artwork for framing and display

I was really lucky that my three workdays had light loads in terms of The Cure. For this one I decided to do it the other way around – not pick a piece of art to frame, but a frame that needs some new piece of art. Specifically the large ABC poster in the kids’ bathroom. It’s this lovely print by enna  and while I still think it’s beautiful, they simply have outgrown it. I still do love the dark wooden frame though, so last week I went through my photos from the last vacation at the beach and picked one. Actually took me until this week to finally get the measurements of the frame, decide whether I want the photo with or without a mat and order it. But it’s done and should be ready in time for hanging it as one of the next Cure assignments.

Friday – Sunday: Flowers, kitchen organizing and cleaning, make a meal

Nothing better to start your Friday than clean out the fridge and freezer, right? Well, at least the kids were at school so I could make a giant mess out of my kitchen, barely managing to clean it all up before I had to run out of the door to pick them up cleaning it all up, having a nice cup of tea and waiting for them at school. Ha. The upside was that little brother and I went for a nice and relaxed grocery shopping trip later that afternoon (and yes, if you usually deal with two kids arguing and racing their shopping carts around the aisles, taking just one of them shopping is actually nice and relaxed). He chose some red tulips for our weekly flowers, and we bought some chicken for making a citrusy grilled chicken Saturday.

I felt pretty good with the worst kitchen offenders already dealt with and flowers on my table. I should have known that if it takes me quite some time Monday to clean out one cabinet and all Friday morning to do the fridge, the rest of the kitchen wouldn’t exactly be a piece of cake either.

And let’s just say it wasn’t. By Saturday night I had at least dealt with all the food cabinets, plus those two drawers holding my baking pans, measuring cups and waffle irons (why, yes, I have two. One for waffles and one for ice cream cones. Not that I have ever made ice cream cones yet, mind you. Guess that is on my list for 2014, or else that thing will have a place reserved in next year’s outbox!) that had been driving me crazy for ages. But it was late, dinner was on the grill and the kids were tired.

Ah, right, that is why everything seemed to take even longer. Kids. Two of them. Having demands like wanting drinks, food and mommy to find that tiny little flashlight that belongs to one of those Playmobil figurines. Somehow I have a feeling this Cure thing would be easier if you could just keep working without interruptions, until late at night if you have to and then collapse onto the couch and order a pizza, oh, and sleep in the next morning. Well, no such luck. That reminded me why I don’t usually do weekend projects like this one and try to break tasks into chunks that I can finish off while they are at school and I am off work...

In the end we did get it done though, and although I am sure my men all think I am nuts and rolled their eyes here and there, they did let me work and even took the time to appropriately admire my work.

So this is what we ended up with for the outbox. I found a couple more things, such as a pair of fruit knives. Who on earth needs fruit knives?! I asked my mom when she came in, but she insisted that “people used to have them”. Right. And what for? “Well, for when you want to cut an apple of so”. Hmmm, when I want to cut an apple I use a real knife and cutting board, thank you very much. But what else is she going to say, she was the one who bought that stuff. I was going to add them to the outbox and took them out of their WMF package (yes, they were still in their original box, and made it through two moves. Go figure.) to see what they look like – turns out they look precisely like miniature versions of my regular WMF cutlery. So into the kids cutlery drawer they went, at least now they have knives sharp enough to cut their chicken themselves. Just another one of those why didn’t I think of that earlier moments.

Anyone else having these moments during The Cure? I find it has several effects:
-          these lightbulb moments where it finally dawns on you that an unbelievably simple solution for something that has been bugging you for ages is staring right in your face, and has been all along. You just didn’t see it.
-          you actually take those five minutes it really takes to clean up little messes instead of planning to add it to your to do list for five times before you actually do add it, and then postponing it another five times before you get around to it. So instead of wasting a lot of time and thought on “I have to remember to purge that battery drawer”, I took the box holding the batteries out yesterday, put all the dead ones into a recycling bag and organized the rest by battery, rechargeable and those teeny tiny special sizes. Then actually found and recharged three and put them into little brother’s flashlight, that has been sitting on my kitchen windowsill for ages, missing batteries. Amazing how simple things can be.
-          making plans. I can’t help it, even after making my master house list last week, I keep seeing things and adding to the list. I have a feeling, this Cure will take me longer than January... Much longer.
-          finally crossing off things you meant to do forever. Some of them never even made it on my list because I keep forgetting them. Am I the only one who finds that she forgot thing on her initial project list? Maybe I should have taken more time to write that one... Anyhow, funny thing is even though you have your plate full with assignments, you somehow manage to cross things off here and there, simply because it raises your awareness of the things that work and don’t work in your home. And I guess that is what The Cure really is about.

So we’ll see how this week goes, should be ok. Next week I am not so sure, it’s a busy one workwise and some of the assignments will take an hour or two (or more...). You know, paper clutter, bathroom cabinets and such.

This weekend’s assignment will be bedroom organization. Since I do my wardrobe twice a year anyway but usually more towards February or March when I can put the winter stuff away, there won’t be much to do. Maybe I’ll do a quick sock drawer makeover, but my overall plan is to try and get the living room changes underway. Since that involves quite some furniture moving as well as hanging the TV on the wall, I don’t really want to do that on my own.

What are your plans for the weekend? And what is your goal project for The Cure?

Happy organizing,

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