Are the gigs at the Leadmill still as good? Are the Peace Shop and The Fat Cat still on Division Street? Is going over the top of the paternoster in the Arts Tower still the most frightening thing I have ever done? Today I shall be finding out as I am accompanying the Dancer to Sheffield where she is going to check out the Medical School and I am going to find out how much it has changed since my student days. Therefore I apologise but today you are getting a rehash.
This post was originally written for Susie at Let’s Get Organized. But as I have no time to blog today I hope you don’t mind if it comes back again.
How to tackle the kitchen…..
- Remove everything from the cupboard, endeavouring not to pin Newfoundland in a corner.
- Release cornered dog.
- Scrub cupboards and try not to show too much shock at the level of dust.
- Sit back on heels and look hopelessly at the chaos on the floor.
- Take a deep breath and dive in.
Wall cupboard before
Wall cupboard after
At this point, traditional declutter divas recommend three piles. Keep, Ditch and Maybe. Personally I don’t hold with Maybe. All you are doing is putting off the evil day when you have to make a decision. As a Libran I know how hard that is so just get it over with.
Tins before (oh my look at that dust!)
6. Sort into two piles.
7. Remove Ditch pile immediately to another room before you are tempted to put any of it back in cupboard.
8. Wash Keep pile as appropriate.
9. Enjoy replacing items in neat piles where you can see everything and there is plenty of space between items.
10. If (9) is not achievable go back to step (6) and repeat.
It sounds simple doesn’t it? That’s because it is. You don’t need fancy boxes or storage containers. You do not need to spend the equivalent of a month’s salary at IKEA. You just need to take command. Whose room is it? Yours or the Junk’s?
Dresser bottom before
Dresser top before
I can’t tell you how to approach level (6); we all have our own criteria. But the important thing is to decide your criteria first. I don’t necessarily go with the “if you haven’t used it in 6 months….” Some things are only used a few times a year but are essential. My husband wears his kilts only a few times a year but we would never get rid of them. Our fish kettle is only used occasionally but is the only way we can cook a whole fish and as my husband is a keen fisherman we do cook whole fish.
My decision tree goes something like this:
- Do I use it?
- If no is there a reason why I should keep it?
- Yes answers may include family heirloom that would result in instant death and excommunication were I to ditch it/ I use it occasionally and need it for those occasions/ sentimental value.
- The above are all valid but the said items do not have to be kept in the kitchen cupboard taking up valuable space. Is there somewhere else they can go? Could they be put on display? (Our fish kettle and wooden salad bowls live on the top of the dresser and look rather lovely but don’t get in the way.)
- Do I use it?
- If yes, are there more than one and do I need them all?
- I have a large collection of crockery because we entertain a lot and I don’t use anything disposable. On the other hand I did not need 15 egg cups. We are a family of 5, even with guests we are unlike to need more than 10. I kept 9. Three are family heirlooms, two belonged to my children and one belonged to me as a child. Hit three birds with one stone.
Multiples of useful items are common stumbling blocks. We all need mugs etc. But how many do we need? How big is your family? How often do you have guests? How many guests do you have? Do you have a dishwasher? (Dishwashers eat crockery – if you hand wash you can get away with less).
Tea cupboard before
Tea cupboard after
I discovered we had 4 sets of bone china tea services, each contained a cup, saucer and tea plate for 8 to 12 plus two to four sandwich plates, milk jug, sugar bowl and teapot. I had kept them for sentimental reasons and pretended I had kept them for my daughters. My daughters will not want them and if they do they can fight over the one I will keep or do battle with my future son-in-laws’ families over their own tea services. I don’t use coffee cups after dinner, I think they are far too small, I use the tea service. Thus I have kept the largest service the rest will be boxed up for auction.
I did the pantry last week so there are no before and after photos. However this is the one room I do declutter (rather than merely tidy) on a regular basis. I am a bit anal about my pantry. But that too turned out to require more attention than I had realised. You will continue to buy more mint sauce if you can’t see the jar behind the rosehip jelly. You have to inventory on a regular basis. If you don’t you will end up making multiple purchases.
It helps if you plan your meals on a weekly basis. I don’t subscribe to the 15 (or whatever) circulating recipes. How boring that must get. Instead I start my shopping in my pantry and freezer. Then I get out 2-4 recipe books and look for new recipes to try using the major ingredients I have found on my in house shop. I bought some mutton at the last farmers’ market so we have had several mutton/goat recipes this week (the two are easily interchangeable). I supplement with recipes that catch my eye and then allocate them to days of the week, taking into account any evenings when one or more of us will be out late or away and to the length of time I will have available to prepare. Baked potatoes and pasta (not together!) are our no time to chop night meals. The shopping list is made on the basis on the ingredients I need which are not in the pantry or freezer.
This way you keep a regular eye on your store cupboard, have a menu plan for the week, buy only what you need and try out new recipes. What’s not to like?
There is no point in getting rid of things you no longer need or want if you are just going to fill up the gaps with more of the same. Like a dieter who drops two dress sizes you don’t want to go back. You have to rethink how you shop. I now have a strict one in one out policy. I still love shopping, it’s just that I don’t buy anything. I can enjoy and appreciate the beauty and form of everything from a dress to a vase. But I don’t need to buy it. I treat shopping like a trip to a museum, I admire but I leave it behind.