Kitchen Cure Week 3 – Deep Cleaning Cont.

I wrote yesterday about the list of deep cleaning chores I had prepared in order to complete the Week 3 assignment for the Kitchen Cure. I am proud and somewhat surprised to report: THEY ARE FINISHED.

Kitchen Deep Cleaning

  • Clean outside of mixer, toaster, knife block
  • Clean coffee maker inside + out
  • Clean microwave inside + out
  • Wipe down exterior of refrigerator + stove/oven
  • Wipe down exterior of kitchen trash can
  • Clean burners and pans of stove
  • Clean/degrease hood
  • Move refrigerator and clean gross stuff off floor between refrigerator and stove
  • Scrub down outside of kitchen cabinets (upper and lower)
  • Scrub down kitchen walls
  • Clean windows
  • Deep clean floor – that means hands + knees scrubbing
  • Remove floor mat and clean before replacing
I also had to add a few to the list, things I had forgotten:
  • Clean outside of dishwasher
  • Clean light switches and electrical outlet covers
I never would have made it to the end of the list without Tyler’s help. I finished everything except the walls, the floor, and the gross hidden spaces of the floor. I was exhausted and had to leave for my second job of the day. He had just woken up from a nap (he works those early morning shifts now) and swooped in, spending several icky hours scrubbing those forlorn places.
So, our kitchen is sparkling, making this yet another week I somehow managed to finish on time. There would have been no shame in breaking up the tasks into two days but I’m glad we are done!
I decided the new, clean kitchen deserved a treat, so after work I went out and bought one of those fancy-schmancy stainless steel lidded trashcans.
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Kitchen Cure – Week 3 Deep Cleaning

I’ve procrastinated on this week’s primary assignment. I keep the kitchen relatively clean and so perhaps I am not feeling the need as strongly as I did with weeks 1 and 2, where I desperately needed to complete the assignments. The work I’ve accomplished so far has really given the kitchen a boost and I am enjoying cooking and preparing meals in this newly organized haven.

Part of Week 3’s assignment was completing a special project, and I accomplished that earlier in the week thanks to Tyler’s handy help. Now it is time for deep cleaning. I just went to the kitchen and ended up making cookie dough instead of cleaning, so I thought making a list might help me tackle this project. Sometimes projects are overwhelming when you think of them in their entirety and this can cripple you and keep you from moving forward. I find a list the best way to overcome this inertia. Breaking down a large project into smaller tasks makes it easier to get started.

Kitchen Deep Cleaning

  • Clean outside of mixer, toaster, knife block
  • Clean coffee maker inside + out
  • Clean microwave inside + out
  • Wipe down exterior of refrigerator + stove/oven
  • Wipe down exterior of kitchen trash can
  • Clean burners and pans of stove
  • Clean/degrease hood
  • Move refrigerator and clean gross stuff off floor between refrigerator and stove
  • Scrub down outside of kitchen cabinets (upper and lower)
  • Scrub down kitchen walls
  • Clean windows
  • Deep clean floor – that means hands + knees scrubbing
  • Remove floor mat and clean before replacing

* Side note: I don’t believe in cleaning the inside of the oven, unless I have just spilled something in it so I am skipping this step. If you get the hankering to deep clean your own kitchen, you may want to add a few steps that I did as part of the earlier weeks’ assignments: cleaning the inside of your refrigerator/freezer, wiping down food containers, scrubbing the interiors of drawers and the shelves of your cabinets, and dusting and de-griming the hard-to-reach places of your kitchen like the tops of cabinets, the light fixtures, and the ceiling fan. I spray down and clean the counters multiple times a day so I have also omitted that from this list – but if you don’t normally use your kitchen, add countertops to your deep cleaning list as well.

 

Kitchen Cure Week 3 – Special Project

Week 3 of the Kitchen Cure is nearly over. Weeks 1 and 2 were brutal, but my kitchen is virtually transformed as a result. The assignments for Week 3 include completing a special project, deep cleaning, and doing something to beautify your kitchen. Cleaning isn’t much fun to write about or to do, so I thought I would share our special project. We decided to replace the ugly mini-blinds with slightly the same shades we’ve used throughout the rest of the house. Luckily for me the shades are now on clearance, so the whole project cost only TEN DOLLARS. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I will get shades for my office. I took the last two appropriately sized window treatments. But that is a problem for another day. This is Kitchen Cure, after all, not Office-Window-Treatment-Emergency.

 

 

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BEFORE - Kitchen Windows

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AFTER - Kitchen Windows

 

 

Kitchen Cure – Week 2

I signed up three weeks ago for the Kitchen Cure. Week 1 wasn’t bad – over the course of an afternoon I organized and cleaned up my food stores. Week 2 was another story. Week 2 was the reason I signed up for the cure in the first place. This week’s assignment had me sorting, purging, and reorganizing all my *stuff* “From little stuff like flatware to big appliances.” I took the directions to heart and organized everything from biscuit cutters and muffin tins all the way up to stock pots and appliances. This project took most of the WEEK instead of an afternoon. I started with one drawer. That drawer went fine, so I did the rest of the drawers. The next day, I did the lower cabinets. The following day I did the upper cabinets and finally sorted serving pieces and placed them in the very highest cabinets of all.

The key for me was to get *everything* out where I could see it. This meant unpacking things, emptying drawers, and bringing up wedding presents (many still with store receipts!) from the basement so I could comprehend the scope of my belongings and also answer with definity questions like, “Do I have enough whisks?”.

After the “keepers” were selected, they were wiped down and placed back in their drawers. I even bought some pretty new organizers for the occasion. : )

Week 2 also involved choosing a “special project” to beautify your kitchen. We choose to replace the ugly mini-blinds we have already torn off all the other windows in the house and replace them with the shades we used in the living, dining, and bedrooms.

Unfortunately I do not have before/after pictures to share for all the nooks and crannies of my kitchen. One afternoon while I was at the office, Tyler decided to help and got things “pre-organized” for me. This was an invaluable aid, so I didn’t even get annoyed about the lack of before photos but I just wanted to let you all know what happened. Sadly we do live in a rental, so the kitchen is blighted with ugliness beyond what we can control. Please keep that in mind and reserve judgement.

Things had gotten *really* bad because this was a project I intended to implement from the first day we moved in, meaning that we’ve had months of living in relative kitchen disarray while I allowed myself to shove things into dark cabinet recesses and casually toss them into drawers. I don’t normally live like this. You saw my folded underwear drawer, right? This project had been intimidating me for a long time – even before I moved in with Tyler I had a mishmash of stuff I’d collected over college and had been moving from place to place. This was finally the time to make a fresh start, especially now that most of our needs have been taken care of thanks to the generosity of our friends and family.

This whole process was exhausting, more emotionally and mentally than physically, although I did manage to slam my finger in a door. A few tips for those of you embarking on the process yourselves:

1. Get everything out in the open – even if that means a blanket on your kitchen floor.

2. No excuses! This is the time to HONESTLY evaluate if something is worth the space it takes up in your life and to evaluate not only what you need to get rid of – but what might need to be replaced or added. All of our vegetable peelers were rusty and (IMO) hazardous. Out they went. Off I go to Williams Sonoma : ).

3. Bring a friend. Use the support of another person to help you make those tough decisions. When I needed to be reassured that it was okay to get rid of 4 perfectly decent cookie sheets, Tyler was there to remind me about the 4 brand-new super-fancy ones I had in the cupboard. He was there to help me realize I did not need them for some sort of unidentified craft project (part of the no excuses rule).

4. Don’t stop! It’s okay to do this project in phases – but don’t let yourself quit part way through. Keep at it, little by little, until it is done!

By the time we finished Week 2, I had cleared five HUGE boxes of stuff out of the kitchen, along with a George Forman Grill and an electric griddle. A room in our basement was nearly empty thanks to all the space we cleared out upstairs for the wedding presents (now in use!) and our kitchen is filled with useful items we love and cannot wait to use! So now you know, it can be done, and despite it all- the process is well worth it. Your kitchen probably isn’t as bad as mine was, but I’m sure it’s not perfect! Are you inspired yet?

 

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Drawer 1 Before

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Drawer 2 Before

 

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Drawer 3 - Before

 

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Mid-Utensil-Sorting: I like to organize categorically. I start big - utensils, flatware- and start moving into ever more specific groups - baking vs. stove cooking - then down to wooden spoons, whisks, thermometers. Meanwhile I literally move the items into questions into different piles - it's visual and helps keep me from losing my place in the process if I get distracted or have to do something else for a moment.

 

 

 

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Drawer 1 - After

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Drawer 2 - After

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Drawer 3 - After

 

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Cupboard - After (many dishes still in dishwasher)

 

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After - Tupperware, Ceramic Baking, Small Appliances, Cookie Decorating

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After- Pots, Cookie Sheets, Newly Hung Fire Extinguisher

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Sorting Bakeware

 

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Bakeware After

 

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The Discard Pile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Cure 2009 – Week 1

You may recall that I am participating in the Apartment Therapy  Fall Kitchen Cure this month. I finished my week 1 assignment just in time – mere minutes before the week 2 assignment was posted. Week 1 involved cleaning out the food storage areas of the kitchen. For me this meant the refrigerator, freezer, pantry, baking supplies cupboard, and coffee supplies cupboard. The cure directions suggest you eliminate food that is old or that you are never actually going to eat and make way for better things. I found a bottle of “mulling spice” I have carried with me when I have moved FIVE TIMES. It seems innocent enough, but it’s taking up valuable real estate (especially seeing as how our storage space is limited in such a way that we had to *construct* a place to store our food!), and let’s face it, if I were going to mull something, I would have by now. The week 1 instructions also state that you should wipe down containers and surfaces as you place food back into its storage area. I opted not to do this in order to save time. There is a “deep clean” coming up and I’d rather tackle everything at once. I normally wipe things down in the course of regular use, so my kitchen isn’t TOO horrifying. Next week is going to be a doozy – sorting your *stuff*… flatware, utensils, pots + pans, dishes, serving platters etc. I haven’t even finished unpacking our wedding presents, so that gives you some idea of the vastness of this assignment. I need to consolidate my stuff, Tyler’s stuff, our stuff, our presents, old stuff vs. new stuff. I’ve dedicated Wednesday to week 2’s assignment. More about that later!

And now, for the photographic evidence of my successful completion of week 1!

Refrigerator + Freezer BEFORE

Refrigerator + Freezer BEFORE

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Refrigerator + Freezer AFTER

Pantry - BEFORE

Pantry - BEFORE

Pantry - AFTER

Pantry - AFTER

Baking Supplies - BEFORE

Baking Supplies - BEFORE

Baking Supplies - AFTER

Baking Supplies - AFTER (with an empty shelf above!)

Dirty Secrets…

I have a dirty secret.  A dirty little kitchen secret, in fact. Despite the fact that I may seem obsessively organized (to the point of color coding, in fact!), there are certain areas of my life that have remained untouched by order. One of these places is the pots/pans cupboard in my kitchen. Things aren’t even stacked, but rather, artfully piled in a dark and somewhat frightening disarray. The arrangement IS artful – a touch from an unskilled hand (like my husband’s) will send the whole mess toppling down in a deafening crash. I take a little bit of twisted delight in placing clean pots back into the fray, carefully balancing them at juuust the right angle.

The rest of the kitchen isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. When we moved in, Tyler even hung shelves and organizers for me in a broom closet to turn it into the sweetest little pantry. Thank goodness, too, because otherwise we would have nowhere to store our food. This is the room I have procrastinated tackling as I have pursued my various “domestic beautification efforts” around the house. Partly it’s because there is a lot of rather dull work to do. I still need to finish unpacking our wedding loot and then evaluate which of these presents have suitably replaced old items (like all the awesome new bakeware I got!). The kitchen is also full of under-utilized space (ridiculous tall shelves, cavernously deep cabinets) that need organizational implements to make best use of the existing space. I was waiting to figure out how we used the space before I bought a bunch of stuff… Well, it’s been 6 months, so I guess now is as good a time as any. So, I signed up for The Fall Kitchen Cure. 4 Weeks to a better kitchen. Care to do it with me? I bet your kitchen isn’t much better than mine. At the very least, it’s a good excuse to get everything in tip-top shape for cookie-baking weather.