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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen organization’

I’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out how the heck side-by-side refrigerators got so popular in the ’80s.

I grew up thinking my family, with our old-fashioned one-door, freezer-on-top model, was missing out, that somehow the families with side-by-sides were enjoying better meals and tastier snacks. They were certainly enjoying hipper, more modern kitchens.

Oh, the misguided assumptions of youth. I finally got my new-fangled side-by-side refrigerator when we moved to Huntsville (at the same time, I might add, that the hippest homeowners were purchasing refrigerators with French doors and freezer drawers on the bottom).

I quickly ascertained that side-by-sides are virtually useless for anyone who actually wants to USE a refrigerator. I was constantly rearranging things to try to make other things fit. The freezer was a disaster, with two extremely deep, extremely narrow drawers that quickly turned into a tumbled mess of freezer bags and containers no matter how careful I was to try to keep them organized, and shelves that were difficult to navigate despite their small size.

Organizing the refrigerator shelves was like playing a game of culinary Tetris. A gallon of milk and a container of orange juice was pretty much all the top shelf could handle. My love for greens fresh out of the salad spinner required a dedicated bottom shelf. The small salad spinner, mostly reserved for fresh herbs, sometimes had to reside in the crisper, a problem given that the drawer usually already contained an array of veggies.

We never got around to getting another one, partly because someone had kindly custom-built the cabinets around the refrigerator, severely limiting the potential replacement models.

Now that I’m in Atlanta, I’m once again living with an old-school, freezer-on top refrigerator with one non-French door. Only this time, I’ve decided that old-school is pretty awesome.

The refrigerator shelves offer wide, open spaces — currently, the salad spinner is residing alongside half a gallon of milk, a carton of goat cheese AND a jar of jelly. The freezer’s a huge open space — no shelves, but a couple of small plastic boxes can help sort a LOT of frozen foods. It even has a working ice maker, an innovation that I have, until now, not enjoyed in my own home.

The whole setup is so much more usable than the side-by-side that I’m not even curious about freezer drawers on the bottom anymore. I just want space that makes sense.

I guess the moral of this post is to be careful what you wish for, because you might be stuck cursing at it for five long years when you finally get it.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 75: Decision-making time on electronics boxes. Having the original boxes for things like televisions and computer monitors is handy when you move, but not so awesome when you have to live with closets full of boxes. I moved a few into the attic — there’s room since I don’t store anything else in the attic. I still have a few more boxes scattered under the guest bed and in my office closet, but at least some of them are out of sight.

Day 76: I needed to make room in the cabinet for my awesome new OXO angled measuring cup. I could have probably just squeezed it in, but I found it much more satisfying to toss out a few old jars and other miscellany.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 70: Vacuumed the living room furniture. Even though I’ve discovered that Yin, who died back in September, was responsible for approximately 75 percent of the cat hair in the house despite his smaller stature, Yang’s still doing a great job of dusting the house with light gray fur.

Saturday, Day 71: I finalized my ScanCafe order online. Thus ends to saga of the latest box of photos cleared out of the closet for digitization.

Day 72: Sometimes, minor household emergencies lead unexpected organizational advances. I noticed a weird dark stain on the bottom of one of the pantry shelves; upon further investigation, I found that a can of Pam cooking spray had let loose and dribbled for no telling how long, leaving an oblong puddle on the shelf.

I cleared everything off of the shelf, sopped up the puddle and sprinkled baking soda all over the stain to try to soak up some of the spray. After I vacuumed up the baking soda a few hours later and started putting things back, I rediscovered a dirty little secret of closet and cabinet organization: Once you’ve completely cleared out a space, it’s hard to fill it back up. I tossed a couple of bottles of miscellaneous spice blends that I had been gifted with a couple of years ago, along with some bouillon cubes that had expired in 2007 (although, you might ask yourself, can bouillon cubes ever really expire?) and a few other items.

It’s pretty fulfilling, overall, to know exactly what’s on a pantry shelf.

Day 73: Repeated Day 72’s pantry clean-out protocol with another pantry shelf. This take-no-prisoners organizational strategy is totally working for me.

Day 74: Started prepping for the mother-in-law’s upcoming visit by purchasing duvet clips for the new duvet and duvet cover I found for the guest room last week.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 65: Finally hung up the curtain rod for the long-suffering wall hanging that we’ve owned for years.  It came into our possession when my husband bought a Volkswagen Vanagon back in the late 1990s. (Apparently, it’s traditional to include a gift when you sell a Vanagon  — the husband left a waterbed mattress in one that he sold before we were married.)

Anyway, it doesn’t really go with anything, but it doesn’t really NOT go with anything, either. It’s handmade and unique, and I love the stylized creatures that now brighten the upstairs hallway.

Also this week:

Day 63: Made an epic find at Target. I was planning to buy a duvet and duvet cover for the guest bedroom, since I’ve found that combination imminently easier to care for than a comforter, bedspread or quilt. With the mother-in-law set to arrive later this month, it was finally time to ditch the cat-hair-laden comforter.

Anyway, I found the EXACT items I was looking for in the clearance section for half price. Woot!

Day 64: Attempted, yet again, to move the garage shelf, only to find that there was a HUGE, unwieldy pile of green wire for the robotic mower blocking the way. I spent a good 30 minutes untangling the wire and wrapping it around an empty paper towel tube.

Can it be unwrapped easily without retangling itself? I don’t care.

Day 66: Finally managed to move the garage shelf into its new place without getting hit in the head with the surfboard again or finding another tragic tangle of green wire.

Day 67: Cleared a few things out of the kitchen pantry, including a canister of breadcrumbs that expired in April 2010. It’s rather amazing how things accumulate so quickly in there.

Days 68 and 69: I spent these two days driving to Nashville, hanging out with my brother at work and then hanging out while he had knee surgery, and then driving back. Family trumps home improvement, every time.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 42: I picked up a Michael Graves drawer organizer, priced at $4 rather than the normal $10, at Dirt Cheap, which seems to have an unending supply of items from Target this winter. I had three small kitchen cabinet drawers filled with accessories and gadgets, all of which I use sometimes, but some of which I use ALL the time. And drawers are like handbags — the thing you need is always at the bottom under other things.

Now I have the stuff that I use all the time sorted into four little organized rows in a larger drawer. I moved the contents of the larger drawer (rolls of foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, etc.) into two small drawers, and the third small drawer holds the things I use sometimes.

The three small drawers before organization.

 

(If you haven’t heard of Dirt Cheap, it’s an offshoot of Hudsons Salvage. When I was growing up in South Mississippi, Hudsons was known for selling what I called “disaster merchandise” from stores that had suffered fires or flood. Today, Hudsons and its offshoots, Treasure Hunt and Dirt Cheap, sell what’s known as “problem inventories,” which apparently include everything from closeout stock to seconds. Shopping at these stores is an adventure, to say the very least.)

Also this week:

Day 41: Filled all the liquid soap containers with liquid soap, then forgot to bring them upstairs for a whole 24 hours. But it’s the thought that counts, right? And your hands can’t be that dirty anyway.

Day 43: Sort of organized some school files I brought with me on a CD from my last job. This is the sort of task that makes Dropbox pretty appealing.

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