Thursday, August 22, 2019

Kitchen - Pt. 3

Focus: Organizing the Kitchen Nook & Canned Food Drawers

Last week, I focused on cleaning up a space to store our medicine. We've been keeping everything in a large bag for the moment, but that's not really functional or nice to look at. So I began with sorting thru our canned goods and reorganizing the top drawer for medicine and vitamins. 

I was left with a small selection of items that didn't fit top drawer, so I mixed those in with the small tray that's tucked under our new coffee cabinet. I had a few items that needed to be thrown away, but overall it just needed to be combined  and reorganized. Afterward, I was left with an empty bag to use, a clear table nook, and a few more coffee items for the coffee tray. 

More to come soon!
In this current week, I have been focusing on trying to commit a half-hour daily on cleaning the kitchen. I'm not sure how I got off schedule, but I haven't been committing to a daily routine for a few weeks. The plan is to have the kitchen finished by Sunday, following this approach. 

My next post will showcase the changes that I have done throughout the course of the week. I want to show what can be accomplished throughout one week, when a half-hour of daily focus is given to a room or project.

So, what are you working on this week? I'd love to know! Comment or link to your blog below: 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Kitchen - Pt. 2

Things have been progressing slower than I would like. Aside from washing as many dishes as possible, I've only had two days over the past week to further this project. Not having much time to push forward, I started pressuring myself, "okay, I should do this in one big chunk". I imagined how I might tackle it all in one day... then I started to feel overwhelmed. I had to remind myself that small parts move projects along quicker than big tasks do.

Living life in the midst of change is always a bit of a dance - two steps forward, one back. I've also been working on seeing boundaries with family so I can focus on my own priorities. That's harder than doing the actual work, I find.

Focus: Fridge & Coffee Nook Area

We cleaned out our fridge about a week ago, and we still need to go through a lot of food, so I didn't bother with the inside. First, I cleared all the junk we had hanging on the fridge, and arranged the magnets so everything looked neat. Then I cleared off the top of the fridge, cleaning the surface and replacing only the large container boxes (and a couple smaller ones that still have their items in them).

After that, I turned my attention to our current nook table/coffee area, and microwave/toaster set up. My husband has a huge collection of coffee that we are going to be working through, and a while ago I gave him a large basket to store the one-pound bags in. On top of that collection is a bag of vitamins and medicine that we haven't found a home for.

The biggest issue with the microwave/toaster area is that we have no counter space to set down plates when we are using these devices for food prep. It's lead to some interesting dinner prep balancing acts. 

Along with these areas, we also have a display case, that I had been storing in the kitchen. I got it for free at my parents storage unit, in a drop area where people leave things they don't want to keep. Because it's skinny, I knew it would fit well in our apartment, but up till now I wasn't sure how to incorporate it. 

I decided to put all the coffee bags in there, clearing out  the basket, and im very pleased with the result. There was enough space to put the coffee maker on the same table, getting it off our nook, and a little room on the front edge for coffee mugs when preparing our drinks. 

I then decided to turn our nook table, pulling it out from the wall, to give us more table space. Placing the microwave and toaster oven at the wall, we have more table space and the option to pop up both leaf's for a full table if needed.

Due to time and energy, I had to stop there. Leaving the table a bit cluttered and items strewn around the kitchen area. This is sometimes part of working thru spaces though. Especially with all the clutter we're sifting thru, there will be some areas that look messier before they are cleaned up and organized. The mess that comes from cleaning and reorganizing can really give a solid picture of how much extra stuff shouldn't be there. It's all part of the process. 

Financial focus:

Beyond our Minimalist Decluttering, we have begun tracking our finances down to the penny. My plan is to compare the last two months to our spending habits in August. My suspicion is that we can cut our food budget way down, but I'm curious to see if there are other areas we can cut from as well.

I've transitioned to a new day planner. One I purchased this at the end of last year, with blank months to fill in. Since it's a year-long planner, I thought it would line up nicely with the Spend Less Year and other goals o have for the next 52 weeks. 

It has multiple sections for notes and lists, and I'm actually tracking the first 10 days for the first week of August so that I start fresh on a Monday for the following week. I also don't want to waste any pages.

I had initially started traking our spending in the day planner, but it got way too crowded on the page. Moving forward we are going to track everything on a separate pad - just for finances - something we also already have at the house (thanks to my obsession with notebooks and office supplies).

What's new for you...?

I'm curious if anyone out there is doing anything similar to my project. Are you working on anything long-term? What's your approach? Please comment below!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

1st Area - Kitchen

We are starting in the kitchen, because aside from the bathroom, it is the smallest room in the house. We have a small eating nook, coffee station, cookware and everything we need to keep the area self-contained. Hopefully meaning that once we clear it out, we can be finished with that area and functioning out of the room properly. 

Overall measurements:

The room itself is 9" by 11" but with our counters and appliances all on one wall, the usable space is more like 5" by 10" with a walkway on one end and an outside door on the other.

We have tried different arrangements for furniture, all in an attempt to create counter space that we don't actually have. At one point, we even had our 3'x5' dining table against the long wall across from our sink. It's definitely a work in progress.

Starting at the top:

When I surveyed the room, I realized that I would have to start small. So focused on the upper cupboards, above the counter space. We have three cupboards (if you count each separate unit as one) with six cupboard doors, running from the fridge, above the counters and sink, across the top of the stove.

I pulled open each cupboard and took a photo, giving myself a "before" snapshot of what we had been functioning out of. Then, starting from the left, I started to pull everything out of the cupboards, wiping down each surface, and reorganize where I wanted the items. Keeping in mind "ease of use", I moved the drinking glasses to just over the sink and lowered the glass Tupperware by one shelf.

I immediately pulled out anything that I knew we hadn't been using, leaving it on the counter as I sorted. I knew that we would have too many mugs, and I pulled out any plastic ware that we didn't need in favor of some of the nicer wear, like glass and porcelain. Then I put everything back together, and took new photos of the cupboards.

Even though things are a lot more organized, and a lot of the extra clutter has been removed, I am still not happy with how much I have left in my cupboards. Some of this is because we live in an apartment, and we don't have a full house space to spread things out. Some of this is because I'm afraid to let go more than I am ready to let go of... but I have decided that during this process I will be swift. Anything that I feel comfortable with will go, and the things that I don't feel comfortable with will stay, and I will probably go through this process more than once.

Wrap up:

I have not yet addressed what is being stored over the cupboards, or what is stacked above the fridge. I have plenty of spaces to dive into, and I think one small space at a time is going to be the best approach. At the completion of this room, I will share the full list of what we've removed.

What do you think?

Any pointers? What works for you? What's the smallest amount of dishes, cups, cookware you could see yourself happily owning? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.