He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

14 August 2013

Becoming A Minimalist: Day 3

This weekend we hosted a ginormous tag sale at our home. It was wonderful and exhausting all at the same time but I realize that a tag/garage/yard sale is all a bit premature at this point since we are still trying to collect all of our "things". So I'll save the story of our sale (and how you can throw your own) for a little further down the road...

Today I'd like to focus on something just about as daunting as organizing your very own tag sale. Today I encourage you to take a long hard look at your kitchen. dun, dun, duh.....
Tackling The Kitchen
This is a hard one for me. I have been through my kitchen several times and still have things I could part with. Hubs and I have taken the first steps of planning a full kitchen renovation and when it came to space planning I wanted to make sure a new layout would handle all of our kitchen doo-dads. I came to realize a few things....
1. Many of our kitchen accoutrements are single purpose items.
2. Many of the single purpose items are rarely, if ever, used.
3. I have several of the same items (cutting boards, for instance).
4. Like laundry, the more kitchen items I own, the more I use, and the more I clean.
5. It's easy to hide all of the excess behind the cabinet doors.

So those were my reasons for needing to go through again and again. Several sources have suggested that to figure out what you really need/like in your closet turn the hangers backwards and only switch them the right way if you actually wear the item. I suggest the same thing with your kitchen gadgets. I dumped them all into a box and put the box on top of the fridge. If I needed the item I would fish it out, use it, and place it in the best drawer for the job. If, over the course of 3 months, I didn't use the item the box went to the basement. If, over the course of 6 months they weren't used I either donated the item, gave it to a friend, or trashed it. (One caveat... if you live in New England and like lobster, keeping 6 or more crackers on hand is perfectly acceptable!)

A few simple and quick tips are...
- Go through your cabinets and toss anything that is broken or dangerous. A kitchen, by nature, has some hazards. Ditch all materials that aren't at their best.
- Analyze all your ingredients. If they are expired, pitch them. If you've changed your diet and you don't eat it any more, donate what you can and pitch the rest. If you always feel guilty after eating it (hello, Oreos) then share them or purge them. This is all about getting rid of the unnecessary, overwhelming, emotionally and spiriturally draining "stuff" in your life. It's time to be cold, calculated, and methodical.
- Empty your counter tops. - Okay, this one is rather difficult for me. Though I haven't cleared it completely, I have been able to downsize my counter-collection from what it once was by decluttering, reorganizing, and utilizing drawer space better. 
- On a daily basis, clean the kitchen. Load the dishwasher, run it, empty it, repeat. (My finger is wagging in my own face on this one!) I assure you that on the days I am able to get ahead on dishes and the counter top is clean, the heavens part and angels sing. It  is such a beautiful sight and is totally worth the 5 minutes spared to empty and reload the dishwasher.
- As with anything else during this process... be thoughtful about what you bring in to your kitchen. Don't bring in food you don't love and feel bad about eating. Don't bring in cooking tools you already have or don't need. This is much easier when you set rules for yourself. As an example: I don't like using plastic in my cooking. There are too many questions about leeching and hormone disruptors for my peace of mind. That made cleaning out our plastic storage, bowls, plates, cups, and cookware much easier and having that rule ensures that I won't bring those things back in to the house.

Another fun tip that I have learned via personal experience is something I recommend through this whole process. If you don't love it and you don't need it, let it go.
It's easy to think that minimizing means you have to only focus on function. I submit to you that form is almost as important as function and should be considered heavily throughout the whole process. Minimizing isn't just about getting down to the things you "need", to me, it's also about surrounding yourself with the things you LOVE. I have been going through this process with that very thing in mind and have found that when I have one item I love, I am happy to let go of 5 other things just like it that I am indifferent about.
For example... I have a soft spot for Pyrex Cinderella Bowls...
Through thrifting, tag sales, and antique shops I have built up a fun little collection for myself. And what surprised me is that I really enjoy cooking with these bowls. It actually perks up my mood when I mix up something in these bowls and it's not something I could have imagined happening unless I had found something I truly loved. Once I owned these, I found it easy to pass on several other mixing bowls that I didn't really want to use any more and had no need for.

Okay. Your turn!
Throw open those cabinet doors, get on your hands and knees, and get serious about organizing your kitchen!
You will be SO glad you did!

  Did you miss something in this series? Check HERE for more

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