I wrote a few weeks ago that when my head is a mess, I am compelled to order my environment. In practical application, this means three things: cleaning. purging. painting.
and I guess decorating. If you count framing stuff I’ve been meaning to frame for…ever. and putting new flooring in downstairs. and getting rid of useless decorative items that just take up space in my house.
Like a bowl of rocks.
at one point in my life, I PAID for a bowl of rocks and put them on a flat surface in my house. To hold candles. Candles that are – to this day – still wrapped in plastic.
purging. This particular purge isn’t so bad. The biggest purge I’ve done was after my hysterectomy in 2009. That was bad. My house and it’s contents suffered nearly two years of female neglect because of chronic anemia and limited activity, followed by another 6 months of recovery after the surgery.
This purge is deeper.
A stripping down to basics purge.
On May 31st, I said I wanted “I want every superfluous thing in my house gone. GONE.” I’m looking at EVERYTHING in my house as if I were moving. Would I want to pack it? or get rid of it?
I’ve thrown away and shredded so. much. paper. We’ve already made one trip to the dump. I’ve completely emptied every bathroom cabinet and only put back the things we need. I’ve gotten rid of pointless dust collecting decorations, including the bowl of rocks. I’ve even gotten rid of over 100 books.
I’ve been posting some of my progress on my public facebook page. You don’t even need to have a facebook account to see it.
Yesterday’s facebook post:
An entire pick-up truck load of furniture and multiple boxes of books, clothing, appliances, and pointless decorative dust collectors – all now in the FUMCO Whale of a Sale storage POD. I have zero dining room chairs and I do not care. I didn’t love them and they took up too much space, so they had to go. Based on that criteria, all members of my family will be staying. I suppose the cats can stay too. Tomorrow? The linen closet purge. I have to make room for the single tablecloth and the single set of placemats I’m keeping after giving away my buffet. #pruning #purging
Today’s facebook posts:
11:57am – Can’t decide what to do today. So I’m going to do everything. 5 minutes at a time. & fb/tweet my progress for accountability & motivation.
12:15pm – 1st micro-action of the day: Weeding the rose bed. Took 10 minutes. Love it when a huge bunch of weeds turns out to be a lot of runners.
12:23pm – How many fridge shelves can I clean in 5 minutes? Three. & I cooled off enough to go back outside. I’m gonna need shoes. #microactions
1:15pm – Prune long neglected roses-10 minutes, put roses in vase, download & learn photo editing app-15 min. #microactions (click any of the photos to enlarge)
3:06pm – An hour deep cleaning the kitchen, including the window, the front of the cabinets, the wall, the prints and my cobalt. More dust collecting decorations to get rid of. #microactions
3:13pm – This is going to be hideous. & hot. But tomorrow is yard waste day. Any guesses how long it will take? #microactions
4:06pm – If you do it fast enough, weeding is cardio. (posted “before” pic earlier) #microactions
4:56pm – 20 minutes to make this mess. But my view is much clearer. Gotta bind all this up after I pick PinkGirl up.#microactions
9:28pm – Got on a roll. FavoriteSon and I mowed and he whacked weeds while I bound up what seemed to equate to a small forest. I ran out of daylight. And I may have discovered a new smell. A cross between sunscreen, bug spray, gasoline and sweat. #pruning #purging
I took an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory. Hopefully, I’ll be good to go tomorrow. I never did get to that linen closet today.
[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series "the search for Joy."]
My husband is scared right now.
happy. but scared.
Happy because of all the stuff I’m getting rid of. And I’m getting rid of a LOT of stuff. a LOT of stuff.
Scared because of the honey-do list that goes along with ordering my environment.
I’m so thankful to God for him. He is my density.
In the middle (and at the bottom) of stirring this mess in my head, he said: “You really need to work through this. I don’t recognize you. It’s like you’ve given up. I don’t know whether to encourage you or give you a swift kick in the butt. You’ve lost your mojo.”
mojo. is that another word for faith?
It was bad. I couldn’t even pray.
What does faith look like when you can’t even pray?
it’s not pretty.
I needed to think. I need to think.
And so I clean my house. I paint my house. I purge my house. of books even. over 100 so far. I want every superfluous thing in my house gone. GONE.
GONE I tell you!
physically and metaphorically.
But in the middle of all the thinking I’m reading two books right now.
I know. But yes. These two are thick.
and not in a benchpress them kind of way.
FirstHusband suggested I re-read these books. Smart guy.
I’ve read both of them before. But I was younger then. Not that much younger. But still.
They were both responsible for pivot points in my faith.
In all my thinking and purging, I need to go back to bones of what I believe and why.
Messy deep digging blog posts ahead.
Even so, if you know me IRL (in real life), don’t weird out when you see me in person. If you’re at a loss about what to say, we can talk about the little blond girl’s face at the end of this commercial. cracks me up every time.
[CLICK HERE to see a listing of all the blog posts in this series "the search for Joy."]
If you put your kids Christmas gifts in unmarked boxes, you can get them to wrap their own presents.
Me: “PinkGirl, you know what time it is?”
Me: “Time to lay out your clothes for school tomorrow.”
extreme, dramatic faux fainting
Me: “And pack your lunch.”
and just like that. Summer is over.
This post proves that I will do anything to distract myself while trying to get through the last half mile of a 5 mile catch-up walk on the treadmill at a 6.5 incline…
As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated cleaning, so I’m once again applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen.
The recent “worms in the fridge” episode has me focused on cleaning my refrigerator. You’d think that the shelf with the worms on it would get my attention, but no. The drawer that was so stuffed it wouldn’t open gets first dibs. I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned it out.
Includes emptying out the drawer (including the loose, petrified croutons) cleaning the drawer bottom, searching for science experiments and tossing them out, combining the contents of multiple open packages of the same items and reloading the drawer – leaving out the food that shouldn’t have been in there in the first place.
Here’s the photo documentary of this exciting event:
And my theory is that nobody really wants to see the science experiments that were discovered and discarded, but if I’m wrong, HERE THEY ARE.
What can you clean in 5 minutes?
oh, you get to see the ugly now. My last few 5 minute posts have been in line with my goal to spring/deep clean my kitchen, but today’s post is about a DAILY struggle.
I have to believe that my kitchen counter is not the only one with magical magnetic properties. Magical in that it attracts all materials, not just metal.
We’ve got paper, plastic, wood, glass, medicine, vitamins, food items, cleaning supplies, a doorknob (don’t ask), even flat out GARBAGE. Maybe if I put the garbage can ON the counter…
But I digress.
I decided to find out if I could clear it in 5 minutes. If so, maybe it won’t seem like such a daunting task in the future. Maybe if I SEE that I can do it in 5 minutes, I’ll be more likely to do it every day.
Bwahahaha! (in our house, that would be referred to the Zack and Cody laugh. a statement, followed by a brief pause, and then a burst of mocking laughter.)
Did I make it within 5 minutes?
I’ll admit right now that this was challenging, simply due to the distance I had to travel to put some of this stuff where it actually goes. Which is probably WHY it got dumped on the counter in the first place.
Nobody wanted to go the distance.
I did cheat a little bit and put the items that were supposed to go upstairs ON the stairs to carry up the next time I go.
You watch, the next 5 minute post will start with a picture of my cluttered staircase.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
And I just want to state right now, that I am confident that I can not clear my minivan of CARbage in 5 minutes.
UPDATE @ 2:34pm: Right now, there’s only one thing on my kitchen counter. A crock pot full of Cream Cheese Chicken
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
Still applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the knife drawer.
If THAT photo doesn’t show how bad it really was, THIS one surely does:
I followed the same steps as yesterday’s 5 minute drawer cleanup: emptied the drawer, cleaned the bottom, scrubbed and dried the drawer organizers and put everything back. This time, I didn’t get rid of anything. It may have been dirty, but it’s stayed organized like this since we had the kitchen redone in November of 2000.
2000. I wonder if that’s when I last cleaned the bottom of this drawer. no . . . NO. I’ve definitely cleaned it since then. That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
What can YOU clean in 5 minutes?
But that was only the knife DRAWER. My favorite knives live in my Kapoosh (Amazon link) And I know I clean THAT multiple times per year. because it’s fun. and easy. and it takes less than FIVE MINUTES to clean it.
As usual, I don’t have time to devote a full day (or 7) to concentrated spring cleaning, so I’m applying my long time practice of microactions to tackle deep cleaning my kitchen. Today, I had 5 minutes, so I completely emptied and cleaned out the flatware drawer. I forgot to include a clock in the picture to prove that it only took 5 minutes, so you’re just gonna have to trust me.
Includes emptying out the drawer, cleaning the drawer bottom, scrubbing and drying the drawer organizers and reloading the drawer – leaving out the flatware we don’t really use anymore.
What can you clean in 5 minutes?
Me, to PinkGirl: “Hey, take a look at this silverware drawer. See anything different?”
PinkGirl, crinkling brow, silently stares at the drawer.
Me: “It’s totally clean.”
Me: “So. I have a question. Why was the bottom of this drawer full of chocolate sprinkles?
PinkGirl, grinning: “Funny story….”
(I had already gotten some of the sprinkles out before I remembered to take the photo.)
“We can always find all kinds of small, dead-end projects to work on, but getting a lot done is not the same as getting the most important things done. If you start work by jumping right into the hardest task for the day, you’ll get bigger and better results and feel better, too. Often things we’ve dreaded, dodged and evaded forever take less than half an hour when we finally face up to them.”
We’ve adopted a saying in our house: “eat the frog.”
What does that mean? If the hardest and worst thing on your to-do list is to eat a live frog, just get it over with. With that nagging burden gone, you’ll feel re-energized and the momentum will carry over into everything else you do. Because after eating a live frog, your day has nowhere else to go but up. (http://www.eatthatfrogmovie.com)
I need to work on invoices today. HATE doing it. But it’s my frog.
What’s your frog?
“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
We’ve made a big change here at Casa Aqua (the name Casa Aqua is a long story. Suffice it to say we are no strangers to dehumidifiers and industrial carpet fans). We ditched our straight backed wooden slat chairs (as comfy as they were) and have purchased four office desk chairs for our kitchen table. Take a look:
Last year we experienced a shift in homework time-continuum as FavoriteSon tried different locations to complete his homework. Neither of my kids likes to be isolated during homework time. Neither of them want a desk in their room to do said homework. I’m sure it’s because they just can’t bear to be apart from me.
(convincing and heartfelt pause)
But seriously, this is a good thing. Because they both tend to “daydream” (code word for mild ADD) and I find myself asking “Are you distracted?” “Whatcha doing?” and “Status report, please.” when I see them doing anything BUT homework.
By the end of last year, FavoriteSon’s homework location of choice was MY reading spot:
He complained that the chairs at both our kitchen table and our dining table made his back hurt. I couldn’t disagree with him. So, we sometimes let him do his homework while sitting here. By the end of these evenings, he was sprawled across the loveseat, eyes drooping, pretty much useless. We would send him to bed and wake him up early to finish in the morning. On the days we forced him to sit at a table, the whining was frequent and escalating, extending the time he spent doing the homework in the chairs of pain. (physical pain for him, a whole NUTHER kind of pain for us.)
This year, we had a plan. We took the kids to Staples and Office Depot to pick out chairs. FavoriteSon settled right into a $90 chair. A little steep, but we agreed with the condition that he N E V E R complain about the seating for homework again. And that he MUST A L W A Y S sit at the kitchen table to do his homework.
PinkGirl kept picking out cushy velour chairs FirstHusband and I vetoed every one, envisioning a daily task of removing crusty food from an increasingly hard and stained surface. ewww.
We finally found a $70 chair for her that was COMPLETELY adjustable. The seat goes up and down and tilts forward and backward. The back goes forward and backward as well as up and down. The entire chair moves up and down. And the arms are adjustable.
Of course, it didn’t match FavoriteSon’s chair. And while I’m not opposed to the quirkiness of this “office chairs in the kitchen” idea, I DO have some sense of aesthetics (aka decorating), so we opted to get two and two. FavoriteSon and I have the same chair and FirstHusband and PinkGirl have the same chair. (So what do you think? Do I need a more contemporary table now? I can’t decide.)
Two evenings of homework and so far, so good.
And yes. I am sure I see scratches on the floor already. But I do not care. This floor has had “character” for years now. When my kids are grown and have moved out, I will have a beautiful kitchen floor. But in the words Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen): “It is not THIS day!”
And I’m okay with that. This works for me – and my family.
Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.
My newspaper subscription ran out. I know this because last week someone called to ask if I would like to renew it. Considering the labor intensive household task of carrying the newspaper from the driveway directly to the recycling bin has lost its appeal, I said “No thank you.”
The nice lady told me I would need to call another number and actually cancel the paper, she was just in sales.
So this week, another nice lady called to again tell me my newspaper subscription was expired. FirstHusband and I had talked a bit between these two “courtesy calls” and decided we really don’t mind getting the Sunday paper. It actually gets taken out of the bag and sifted through before laying around the house for a few days – BEFORE it goes into the recycling bin. Sometimes I even take Thursday’s paper out of the plastic bag to peruse the food section. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: We don’t really want so many papers per week. Just Sunday is good.
Her: Well, you actually only pay for Sunday’s paper, the rest of your papers are free. It’s a really good deal. If you only get Sunday’s paper, you’ll still be paying the same amount.
Me: I realize that, but at this point, our free papers are causing us extra work on a daily basis. We have two soaking wet papers in the driveway right now.
Her: Do you have any pets in the house?
Me: You mean the kind of pets who might need shredded newspaper? . . . No.
Wait. Did the newspaper sales person just suggest that I use the newspaper for the direct purpose of letting my pet pee on it?
The newspaper industry is in serious trouble. I feel compelled to lend some assistance. If you don’t need any newspaper to soak up pet urine either, here are some more reasons to subscribe:
Maybe you could make this for your pet at Christmas. So festive!
I’ve decided to make some changes here at Pragmatic Compendium. I’m going to make it more of a compendium. Here are the changes:
1. I’m going to be republishing existing content from my other blogs into Compendium, so that this will be a one stop shop for all my posts. I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, I frequently can’t find my own posts because I can’t remember where I put them. Secondly, the stats from the other blogs don’t show much traffic from Compendium, so my readers are missing my posts. Compendium is only part of who I am. There’s more!
2. I’m going to keep the other blogs too and continue to publish in them. Every time I post in one of my other blogs, I will publish the exact same content in Compendium too.
Why not just put everything in Compendium and do away with the other blogs?
- The other blogs do get traffic, just not much from Compendium. Most traffic comes from subscription services/readers and search strings.
- Pragmatic Communion is JUST for devotions. By still publishing in Communion, readers who only want to read the devotions don’t have to wade through everything else to find them.
- Pragmatic Commotion is JUST for family stuff. Kid stories and quotes, photos, stuff like that. By still publishing in Commotion, friends and family who want to keep up with my family life don’t have to wade through everything else to find things only related to my family. I might not publish all the kid/family photos on Compendium. I’m not sure yet.
- Pragmatic Communication is JUST about communication: talking, writing, reading, and listening. I’m revamping my business website and will be linking to communication “articles” in Pragmatic Communication. My communication clients want to read about communication tips without wading through recipes, my favorite youtube clips and everything else unrelated to communication.
- Pragmatic Computing (my first blog, by the way) is JUST for computer tips and troubleshooting. It is also linked from my business website and my computer clients like to find computer tips without (again) wading through everything else.
3. I’ll be changing the sidebar widgets to remove the links to the last three posts on each of my other blogs. Since the content will already be within Compendium, readers don’t need to see the last three entries on those blogs. I will instead have a single link to each of the other blogs in the sidebar, in case readers want to JUST see devotions, or family stuff, or communication articles, or computer tips.
4. I think I will be removing links TO Compendium which currently appear in my other blogs. That means there will be no clear path BACK to Compendium when someone clicks over to one of the other blogs from here. However, ALL links from Compendium to the other blogs will open in a new window or tab, leaving the Compendium page open. My reasoning for this one?
- Communication and Computing? Clients don’t need to read such personal stuff about me. It makes things awkward for them. When I get to know a client better, I tell them about Compendium. I got a new client last week. A 64 year old man. He really doesn’t want to stumble upon my hysterectomy woes. Neither do I want him to. Talk about awkward.
- Communion – I haven’t decided whether to link back to Compendium yet. I think I’ll leave that two way clicking path available.
- Commotion? I will set all comments on Commotion to be approved before they appear.
5. I’m beefing up the categories and tags on all the blogs to, hopefully, make it easier for
me readers to find posts about certain topics.
6. I haven’t decided how my menu bar at the top will change, but it will. (I’m open to suggestions.)
I LOVE my template, so it will NOT change.
So here’s a call for feedback! What else should I consider? What other changes should I make? What changes should I NOT make?
Check out my recent purchase! $29.99 for both the desktop and mobile platform! And the license allows me to load the desktop software on both my laptop and desktop computer.
I’m a LONG time Palm girl, so the mobile version, on my Centro, looks like this:
There’s also a Windows mobile version.
It even has an interactive shopping list and menu planner! My favorite part? Adjustable serving sizes that modify ingredient amounts! I can edit ingredients, add photos, assign and filter by multiple food categories and search by up to three ingredients.
It comes with over 1200 recipes. Most look pretty good (and easy), but I’ve already deleted 60+ I knew I would NEVER make. Like “Potted Tongue.” This software has everything I can think of, in an intuitive and clean interface. I’m already loving it! Check out some more reviews
I get most of my PDA software from http://www.handango.com and they almost always have an active promo code. If the ones below are expired, search for “handango promotion” and you’ll probably find one.
“APPSWELIKE” expires tonight at midnight and saves you 15%
“SAVE20NOW” saves you 20%, but I’m not sure when it expires.
It’s January, time to shred 2001. At the advice of my accountant, I keep documents 7 years. As I rotate 2008 into storage, I’m reminded of a three part series I wrote entitled “Don’t File Paper at Home Anymore.”
If you are SICK of managing the paper in your house, check it out.
We’ve made one modification to the process this year.
We now throw away all the receipts we don’t need. Why were we keeping grocery store and restaurant receipts? Why were we keeping receipts for household cleaning products and stuff we weren’t going to return?
Many of the expenses we need to track are on our bank statement. We now only keep business receipts. We don’t even need to shred many of them because they don’t show our account numbers.
ahhh. I love getting rid of paper.
About three years ago, I mentioned to a few people that I needed some good kitchen knives. The next Christmas was . . . very sharp. I got knives from my dad, my in-laws and FirstHusband.
Great knives – every one. Especially my favorite – the ceramic knife FirstHusband got me. (second from the left). The problem was that they didn’t match.
Then, walking through Bed, Bath & Beyond one day, FirstHusband found THIS:
Looks like a plain old knife block. Look closer.
It’s called a “Kapoosh ” (amazon product link) and it holds any knife, no matter the size.
To clean it, you just remove all the knives, turn it upside down and the plastic part comes completely out. I just wipe it down, fan it out and pop it back in. Kapoosh!
You’ve heard it. Older people (older than ME, of course), talking about how undisciplined kids are today.
In case you don’t feel like zooming in on the first photo, the 1953 library book plate reads:
“PUPILS MUST NOT WRITE ON OR MARK ANY PAGE OF THIS TEXTBOOK.“
And THIS is why it takes me so long to purge excess stuff from my house. I get a little distracted.
Years ago, I bought old books for decorating purposes. I didn’t really care about the title or author, I just wanted vintage books on the shelf. I’m over it. I’m purging. I kept the titles and authors which interest me, but this is one that didn’t. Well, it doesn’t NOW. I’m finished looking at it, so I’ll pass it on to someone else now. Along with all this stuff:
Except the cat. I’m keeping the cat.
I read, therefore I quote. It’s what I do.
I’ve been quoting books, but this gem from Memarie Lane was just too good to pass over just because it didn’t come bound or with an ISBN number:
“A day for me is like a Rubix Cube. Several patterns in several dimensions that have to be solved in tandem. Lining up one pattern may discombobulate another, so I have to keep it all in balance. Hopefully, by the end of the day I’ll have it all sorted out, though the next morning all that work will be undone again.”
Marie Du Jour
by Memarie Lane
Thinking about my main job these days – not my consulting, but my main job as a Family Manager, I have Kathy Peel to thank for the way I view it and the consistent awareness that what I do has value. My quote today is the crux of Kathy’s (and subsequently my) philosophy on the role of Family Manager.
Although there are days when I miserably fail to meet my goals (and I mean MISERABLY), I start over again the next day with a clean slate. Every little change adds up. It was much more difficult to consistently pair my goals with action when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers. There’s so much “reaction” parenting sometimes. You have to react to something you didn’t expect, like a golf ball through the fish tank. (That’s another post.) Now that my kids are taking more ownership of their own lives, washing their own hair and wiping their own . . . It’s easier.
So, although I don’t always meet them, these words have been the cornerstone for my goals for many, many years:
“I wrote down all of my chores and responsibilities – whether they had to do with our house, clothing, children, relatives, bank accounts, pantry, schools, vacations, furniture, holidays, etc., (the list was very long) – and studied them. Then I tried to place each item on the list into a general department, similar to those of a business. I wanted to see if any patterns emerged. The did. As a matter of fact, seven distinct departments emerged that made a lot of sense to me as a Family Manager.
Time – managing time and schedules – getting the right people to the right places at the right time – so that our household can run smoothly. (UPDATED VERSION INCLUDES: with the right equipment.)
- Goals: To see each day, each hour, each minute as a gift, not to be irresponsibly “spent,” but “used” in a purposeful way. Learn to use small blocks of time to accomplish big tasks. To stop wasting time with meaningless activities. To think and plan ahead so as to eliminate as much chaos and stress as possible from our daily life.
Food: efficiently, economically and creatively meeting the daily food and nutritional needs of my family.
- Goals: To provide tasty, nutritious meals for our family. And even if the food isn’t gourmet, to make mealtimes especially enjoyable times when we share laughter, tears, dreams, ideas – our worlds, as a family.
Home & Property: overseeing the maintenance and care of all our tangible assets, including personal belongings, the house, and its surroundings.
- Goals: To appreciate and take care of all of our belongings in such a way that we can enjoy them as much as possible and they will last as long as possible. To create, through the decor and furnishings of our home, a warm and welcoming atmosphere for family and friends.
Finances – managing budgets, bill-paying and a host of other money issues.
- Goals: To be alert for practical ways every day to live by the motto “Make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.” To live within our budget and spend less than we make.
Special Projects – coordinating large and small projects—birthdays, holidays, vacations, garage sales, family reunions—that fall outside the normal family routine.
- Goals: To plan occasions and events to celebrate the special moments of life, and create and carry on family traditions. To put making memories high on our priority list. To make sure I (and others) aren’t so overwhelmed with trying to do it right we don’t have any fun.
Family Members and Friends – dealing with family life and relationships, and acting as a teacher, nurse, counselor, mediator, and social chairman. (UPDATED VERSION INCLUDES: child rearing, education, marriage, friends, neighbors, and aging parents.)
- Goals: To always remember that relationships are the most important thing in life, that people are more important than projects. To help those closest to me develop their full potential by providing opportunities for their growth and valuing them as individuals. To be, to the best of my ability, a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, relative, friend, and neighbor.
Personal Management – growing and caring for myself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. (I figured that if I’m going to manage everything else, I’ve got to manage myself.)
- Goals: To strive to develop my full potential as a woman. To be an avid reader and a lifelong learner, to exercise regularly and eat wisely, to schedule times for personal recreation and refreshment, to grow in my knowledge of God. To take good care of myself and remind myself regularly of my value as a human being.”
The Family Manager
by Kathy Peel
“. . . therefore I quote” Thursday: If you have a quote to share from something you’ve read recently, feel free to comment and/or include a link to your own “quote” post.
Need help making your link look pretty in the comment? Copy and use this code.
Shannon, over at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday. Today is all about kitchen organization! Since it’s Whale of a Sale time and I’m sorting hundreds of books and alphabetizing by author until I literally can’t remember how to spell, I’m maximizing my time (cheating) and highlighting previous posts about my kitchen.
My favorites are:
the good, the bad and the ugly (kitchen cabinets)
veggie box (our key to 5 minute meal preps)
five minute sink (two of my biggest strategies for getting things DONE.)
lunchbox flatware (no more missing place settings)
Way back in May, in a post entitled “5 minute Panera Wannabe Salad,” I mentioned that I stored veggies pre-prepped and that I would post more on it someday. It is someday.
This idea was an accident. It was January of 2008. Mexican night. The table was covered with lots and lots of small bowls with “fixins” like diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, chopped onions, diced red bell pepper and of course shredded cheese, salsa, queso and more. At cleanup time, we put everything into individual Rubbermaid containers and piled them in the fridge.
The next night, we had salad with dinner and pulled out all the little containers to add the fixins to our salad. At cleanup time, the lids went back on and everything went back into the fridge. THAT was easy! We liked the convenience so much we decided to add some other pre-prepped veggies into the mix for future salad building. Soon we had individual containers of (raw) broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, red, yellow and green diced bell peppers, scallions, carrots, mushrooms – we went all out.
The problem was that when we tried to get something from the fridge, these little individual containers would fall over and out onto the floor. (Is this the underwear principle at work or what?)
Here were the pros:
- We liked that we didn’t have to prep veggies every time we wanted to eat them. Sure veggie prep took longer, but that’s because we were prepping about a week’s worth at a time! Far less than the cumulative time it took before – and we didn’t have to wash the Chop Wizard so often!
- We were eating more fresh veggies because it was so flippin EASY.
- The individual containers took up less room than un-prepped veggies because we were no longer storing the veggie parts we don’t eat.
- Unlike shrink wrapped broccoli or a bag of bell peppers, the containers were STACKABLE.
- With small, individual containers, we only grabbed the veggies we wanted. (I had originally considered a multi compartment veggie tray with a lid – but we would have to take the entire thing out even if we only wanted one thing. Besides. They were all round.)
- The veggies were staying fresh longer because we were lining and layering the containers with dry paper towels. (Amazing discovery! Works great with mushrooms, lettuce and fresh spinach!)
- We were no longer sacrificing still packaged but rotten veggies to the mold gods every week.
- No more dry heaves while cleaning out the fridge. (The “what was this?” fridge cleaning game is rarely played in our house anymore.)
Now the cons:
- We had to prep veggies. (Unfortunately, since we don’t want to pay for pre-prepped veggies, we weren’t going to get around this one.)
- The individual containers were getting knocked over and falling out of the fridge way too easily.
There was a problem with our “system.”
So, as I mentioned, I shopped/researched what container solutions were available. I finally settled on an unused rectangular plastic box I happened to have. It was the perfect height and depth. I packed it with all the individual containers. Again. Perfect. It’s been working for nearly a year. We can either remove one or two containers or we can slide the box all the way out of the fridge like a drawer. The actual veggies and individual containers change all the time, but the are always stored in the veggie box. And yes. Those are actually oblong containers not square or rectangle, but they work in the veggie box, so they may stay.
We’ve also added two large rectangular containers to sit alongside the veggie box. One with a romaine mix and one with fresh spinach. The photos below only show one – we were out of romaine.
UPDATE: (Inspired by Endless Freebies comment below.)
The photos may be misleading. They only show one configuration of the box. We usually use the smallest containers we can and when space is needed for more veggies, we size down as we use the contents. And we have multiple sizes and shapes!
With regard to the box size – that was a process. (Like I said, The Underwear Principle at work!) We tried a smaller veggie box size, but we had a few problems:
1. When the depth of the box didn’t equal the depth of the fridge we had wasted space behind or in front of it. (Wasted space? Not on my watch.) We tried pushing the box to the back and using the extra space in front for other things, but we HATED moving the stuff to get to the box. Storing anything behind the box? We would forget about it and have to play the “What WAS that?” fridge game later.
2. We tried a shorter box and storing it on an adjustable shelf, but we had too many veggies and needed to stack. When we did, stuff fell out because the sides of the box were too short.
3. The day the above photo was taken, the veggie box wasn’t full. We didn’t have any onions or scallions and only one color bell pepper. Sometimes we have shredded carrots, asparagus, avocado, diced or sliced tomatoes, sliced zucchini or squash – LOTS of choices. So while a smaller box would have worked THAT day, it doesn’t work every day.
I eat a fair amount of salad and we use LOTS of spinach, so the big rectangular containers along the side work out the best for us. (We put fresh spinach in LOTS of things – especially omelets!)
I’m charging the camera battery right now, but later I’ll take another photo of TODAY’s configuration as a comparison.