My Kitchen Spruce-Up

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We are quickly realizing that our quaint, little hundred year old house is not going to be our forever home.  While there are things I adore about it still, we just need more space.  

As such, we've gotten to a point where big, huge, renovation-y projects are not in the cards.  The questions like, "How would we improve such-and-such in a dream world?" have been replaced by the more practical, "Can we live with it for just a few more years?"

When we moved in, I loved the open cabinets in our kitchen.  That lasted about two days, and I've hated them ever since.  Having a few nice dishes on display would be fine, but imagine your entire pantry out in the open, all the time.  Imagine having to dust your food with the same regularity as the tchotchkes on your bookshelf.  'Tis not fun.

Unfortunately, the cabinets are a "live with it" problem.  Fixing them in a slap-shod way wouldn't be helpful in the long-term, and fixing them properly is prohibitively expensive.  Up to now, my solution has basically been just to try not to look up when standing in the kitchen. 

This weekend, however--with a push of inspiration from Heather's Whole Food Kitchen class--I decided that maybe, even if I couldn't rip the cabinets down and start over, I could make the "living with them" a little better with some organization and just a teensy bit of money.

I really only ended up making two purchases--some baskets and a curtain and curtain rod to cover our recycling--but it made such a difference.  I don't know if other people will even notice or not, but it's amazing how much better I feel while working in there.  I wish I had done it all years ago!

Here's what I did....

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First, I went through all of our food, and threw away a bunch of it.  I had about four jars that each had about two tablespoons of mystery grains in the bottom, which all went to the chickens.  I had a total of four opened boxes of unflavored gelatin.  (I have no idea!)  I could go on and on about the weird stuff that was tucked in the back of our cabinets.  Suffice to say, it sucks to throw away food, but it sucks worse to have food that you're never going to eat falling out of your cabinets onto your head.
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Then, I boxed up the food that we only use for very specific things--beer brewing, cheese making, holiday baking, canning--and put it into our basement storage.  It's still easy to get to and easy to check before, say, Sweet Husband decides to brew beer, but it's out of the way for day-to-day life.  I did the same with a few appliances and kitchen tools that we only use seasonally.  For example, our food dehydrator and apple corer both went downstairs, as did the pasta maker.
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I got rid of a bunch of bags.  We had so many, I'd swear that they were breeding.  There were bits of random mail stuffed in a few.  It was a house of horrors.
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With the unnecessary items gone, I was left with some spices, our dishes, and about 20 jars and boxes of food.  I considered putting the pared-down pantry back on the shelf just as it was.  Ultimately, however, I decided that it would look nicer tucked away in some baskets, so the Kid and I took a break from cleaning and dashed off to the store for the three matching ones up top there.  

While the baskets will require a more careful inventory before we go to the store each week, I'm so glad I decided to get them.  Just that one step cleared up so much clutter in my kitchen and in my brain!

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From there, I started neatly tucking dishes back on the shelves.  While not all of our dishes are pictured here, with the items I put in the basement there is still much less on the shelves than there was before.  I also found baskets to contain our sippy cup collection and our jar lids--much better!
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And another quick trip to the store for a little curtain rod and curtain to cover our recycling area.
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And, last, but not least, as another suggestion from Heather's class, I set out the items we most commonly use--olive oil, salt, pepper, honey--in an easy-to-get-to basket.

All in all, it was about 5 hours of work and about $100--a very small price to get from "living with it" to "living in it".