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Category Archives: In the Kitchen

Kitchen Cupboard Organisation

Two posts today. I actually have a quiet Sunday with boy wonder at a sleep-over, bubs napping and the princess playing quietly, so I thought I would finally share the last of my kitchen posts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have few cupboards in my kitchen, so I’ve had to use a bit of improvisation to make the most of my space. Here are the before and after shots…

Cupboard 1 (next to the stove)

AFTER

– I’ve moved the cheese graters to a new home, as well as the baking trays, leaving these shelves less crowded.

– I found the raised cooling rack at the op shop for $1. It raises the pots up with room underneath to store the smaller lids instead of stacking them on top of the pots (which always caused an avalanche anytime I got a pot out.

– Larger pots are at the back and smaller ones at the front. Chopping boards on the side. Cake pans are stacked together on the bottom shelf.

Cupboard 2 (under the sink)

BEFORE

AFTER

– My biggest problem with this cupboard is that the mice seem to love it, hence why I don’t keep much in there. I still haven’t figured out what to do with the BBQ utensils, so they’re still there for the time being. I also popped all the mouse traps in there while I’m not using them.

– I found the magazine rack at the op shop and thought it would be perfect to hold all my baking tray and muffin pans, instead of having them all stacked up with my cake pans. I’m hoping since the rack raises them up a bit and they’re on their sides, they’ll be relatively safe from the mice. I won’t know how effective this is until next winter now.

– The large pot lids look kind of weird (attached to the pipes with rubber bands), but it keeps them off the bottom of the cupboard where the mice go.

Cupboards 3 & 4 (under the sink and next to cutlery drawer)

BEFORE

BEFORE

(Don’t you hate all those plastic/tupperware containers! If we ever build our own house I want a big slide out drawer for all my tupperware and containers)

AFTER

– I’m pretty happy with my container solution, not only does it make it easier to find the container I’m looking for, but it also means I don’t have to worry about mice getting into them (before I constantly had to wash and disinfect my containers because of the mice).

– I’m now using the freed up shelf for cleaning products like spare sponges, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes and spare boxes of tissues.

Cupboard 5

BEFORE

AFTER

– I’ve done a switcheroo with my glassware and cooking appliances. Since I use my appliances all the time and very rarely use my glassware, I’ve put my glassware in this cupboard so they’re no longer collecting dust. (I’ll show you the corner in a minute.)

Cupboards 6 & 7 (crockery)

BEFORE

AFTER

– I decided to put all the cups/glasses/mugs on the top shelf and all the plates/bowls on the bottom, I figure it probably makes more sense than how I had it before.

– I’ve labelled where everything goes just so it stays a bit more organised (I hope), though yesterday hubby put dinner plates away where the glasses go, so maybe not.

– You can’t see in this pic, but hidden behind the top lip of the cupboard there are heaps of hooks for hanging mugs. This is actually one space-saving thing that was already here when we moved in and I love it (though guests often have trouble locating the mugs because they’re so hidden).

– Since I took this picture, I actually picked up one of those tiered plate racks at the op shop (for $1, I think) and it has made the bottom shelf even more organised because my plates are now stacked on it.

Corner

BEFORE

AFTER

– After I repurposed the small set of drawers for my tupperware, I bought I nicer looking set of 5 drawers from Sam’s Warehouse (I think they were only $15 or $20). I labelled them so it would be easy to see what each drawer holds (1. tea towels, 2. freezer bags/brown paper bags, 3. cooking bits and pieces, eg: measuring cups, 4. plasticware, eg: disposable plates for parties/BBQs, 5. Party supplies, eg: balloons, streamers, banners)

– I switched the dust-collecting glassware to the cupboard (after culling over half of it). Now the shelves hold all my cooking appliances, making them easier to access. You can see this is also where my cheese graters found their new home.

Bonus Areas

The Bin/Phone Area

BEFORE

AFTER

– I repurposed a tray I picked up at the op shop (another $1 bargain) into a little shelf to go next to our phone. The curved edges make it perfect for holding pens and we now have somewhere to keep our phonebook and write messages instead of on the not-very-spacious kitchen bench.

– An old whiteboard I had lying around now has a purpose and is much more convenient for writing my shopping list and phone messages than the whiteboard out by the coatracks.

– I’d previously been using a recycled cardboard box for keeping bottles tidy beside the bin, but it was starting to break and get soggy on the bottom, so I decided to get a plastic tub instead, which is much sturdier, plus I can clean it easily if any bottles leak.

– I also bought a new brush and shovel as my old one was a bit dodgy after being used to sweep hot coals by the fire over the winter. I love this new one because I can use it standing up! No more crouching to sweep up crumbs. It cost me $8 at The Reject Shop.

– I love my Bag Bag for keeping my old shopping bags (which I can then reuse–so much cheaper than buying those nappy sacks for dirty nappies).

Hooks for Frying Pans

– Instead of my frying pan/wok/strainer taking up space in my cupboards, I’ve hung them on hooks by my stove. A great space saver! Plus easy access.

– Kids’ artwork is great for covering up holes in the wall.

Over the Door Hanger

– I found this hanger at the $2 Shop and just knew it would come in handy for something. I’ve popped it onto my pantry door to hang my oven mitts, long BBQ tongs and a cute bucket of cookie cutters.

So that’s my totally reorganised kitchen! What are some of your favourite organisation/space saving ideas in you kitchen? I’d love to hear them.

Next I’ll be sharing my dining room (it won’t be quite as lengthy as my kitchen posts).

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in In the Kitchen

 

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Organising Kitchen Drawers

It’s been super busy around here with school holidays, and especially this past week I’ve fallen behind on my schedule (I should have had boy wonder’s room finished this week, but I barely made a dent in sorting through his toys). I’ve been getting lots of positive comments on my house from visitors (yes, I’ve had visitors!–doors shut to yet-to-be-organised rooms, of course). My best friend was impressed with the girls’ wardrobe organisation and my MIL thinks my homemade light shade in the dining room really makes a difference to the room. I’ll be revealing both of those in future posts. Today I’m revealing some more of my kitchen.

I have three drawers in my kitchen, two are usable. They were both hideously overstocked with cutlery and utensils. I took a deep breath and shoved my inner hoarder’s voice in a box. As I went through the drawers I asked myself the following questions:

1. Have I ever used it

2. Will I ever use it (be honest!)

A lot of stuff went to the op shop (seriously, why in the world did I have so many knives!! And why do I even need cocktail forks when I always put out toothpicks at parties anyway).

The results…

Drawer 1 BEFORE

You can kind of see here how there is actually cutlery underneath the caddy.

Drawer 1 AFTER

So much better. I have a lot of baby spoons and forks, so I’ve popped them in some plastic cups at the side so they’re not overflowing from the caddy. I’ve since bought a new caddy with two compartments at the front so I can put the longer kids’ knives and forks in one and the longer handled teaspoons in the other. The shorter teaspoons are also in a cup (one whose handle broke off).

Kids’ medicine cups are at the front and egg cups are at the back.

If you can tell from the pic, the soup spoons and dessert spoons still share a compartment, but I’ve topped and tailed them so the soup spoons face up and the dessert spoons face down. No more grabbing a soup spoon for my cereal in the morning!

Drawer 2 BEFORE

Needless to say it was a dangerous task searching for anything with all those knives in there. P.S. Does anyone know what that thingy up the back is that looks like it could be for slicing stuff. I have no idea what is or why I even had it.

Drawer 2 AFTER

And look under here!

Before I would never have let my kids in that drawer under any circumstances. The knives are now hidden under a teatowel out of the way so no one will cut themselves searching through the drawer. And I can now ask a child to retrieve a spatula without fearing they’ll come back minus a finger. The tea towel is easily pulled back to retrieve a knife without disturbing the contents on top too much.

And now that I’ve rid the drawer of all the accumulated, unnecessary utensils, I can actually see what I want to grab as soon as I open the drawer with no searching! Yay!

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in In the Kitchen

 

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Cleaning Your Exhaust Fan Cover (It’s Super Easy!)

I had been putting off cleaning my exhaust fan cover (the one over the stove) for ages because, well, because it was kind of manky and greasy and gross. I’ll admit, last time it got cleaned I’m pretty sure my MIL did it for me.

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Totally gross, right.

But, since I’m doing my big top to bottom clean of the house over the next couple of months I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned, or surface uncleaned.

It turns out, I had nothing to procrastinate about as it is actually super easy to clean. Here’s how I did it:

1. Fill kitchen sink with hot water and vinegar.

2. Take off fan cover and place in hot water. Let it soak for about half an hour.

3. Make up a paste of bicarb soda and water and wipe it over cover using a damp cloth.

4. Replace clean white cover.

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I could have left it like that as it looked quite good, but I decided to get in between the little gaps to make it extra clean. I just used a cotton tip and a little more of the bicarb paste. It was a bit fiddly, but not too much extra work.

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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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Kitchen Reveal!

It’s finally time to reveal my kitchen!

BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE (with bench in view)

AFTER

The Breakdown

– Obviously, to start with, having all the dishes done and cleared away helps a lot.

– As I mentioned in my last post, I cleared all the clutter that was ‘decorating’ my windowsill and simplified it. I think it helped open up the room.

– Every surface of my kitchen got a much needed clean, including the lights, exhaust fan cover and the blind. Obviously I wouldn’t need to be wiping down those things all the time, but I think every few months is probably a good idea as it makes the kitchen looks so much nicer. Plus it’s not really too big a job, it’s just something I don’t generally tend to think about or notice.

– The shelves were housing all of our glassware, which I’ve realised is just ridiculous because for one thing we never even use most of the glasses there and they were just collecting dust. Instead, I’ve got rid of all the glasses we don’t use (after all, we’re not really the cocktail party type and a few wine glasses is all we need) and put the rest away in the cupboard. Now the shelves house my cooking appliances, which I do use quite a lot and therefore are less likely to be dust collectors. I also am finding it is so much easier to grab the appliances off the shelf to use rather than pull everything out of the cupboard to get to the appliance I need.

– I liked our system of having two boxes on the fridge for our medication and the kids’ medication, but the recycled chip boxes I had been using were starting to fall apart and really weren’t very attractive. Instead I bought a couple of plastic tubs from the Reject shop. Not only do they look much nicer and won’t fall apart like a cardboard box, they also have lids, which means our medication containers won’t get covered in dust anymore.

– Over on the bench, I’ve cleared the shelf above, which had become a dumping ground for all kinds of junk. In the before pictures you can just see the black baskets on the bench which I had only just bought to help file papers which usually clutter up the bench, like mail, dockets and stuff that needs to be filed. I put the baskets on the newly cleared shelf so I have a bit more bench space. I have one basket for stuff that needs to be filed, one for stuff that needs hubby’s attention or I’m not sure whether I should toss it in case it’s something important, and the finally large basket is for other stuff I don’t want to toss, but it doesn’t have a home (like old invitations with phone numbers I want to keep or the instruction card for the heat pack).

– The fridge probably doesn’t look much different, but I did take down a lot of stuff, like old school notes. I also limited my kids’ artwork/school work to one piece each.

– I’m so excited to have a spot to keep my step stool! As a short person I need my step stool for reaching those high places, but the step stool never had a home. It didn’t seem to matter where it got put, we were always tripping over it. Now it fits nicely beside the fridge out of the way, but easy to grab.

I’m feeling really good about how the kitchen is looking. I think if I can keep on top of the dishes and give the whole kitchen a wipe down every so often I might just be able to keep it looking good.

There is still the more in-depth peek into my kitchen cupboards to come, but what do you think?

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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Little Things That Make a Big Difference

Rise and shine: 6.00am

Chocolate consumed: A handful of Maltesers

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Homemade crispy chicken strips and chips (usually Saturday is takeout night, but we’re on a tight budget this week, so I made my own version of takeout).

All kids in bed by: 8.00pm

Today I…

Spruced up the kitchen a bit more and cleaned a few things I overlooked (like the fan cover over the stove). Plus I had two of my nephews over for the day and cooked up a pot of homemade macaroni cheese for lunch for the tribe of kiddies. I was quite productive for a Saturday.

The Kitchen

Here are a couple of little things I’ve done in my kitchen to make a difference. I’ll be sharing the bigger aspects (like the cupboards) in coming posts.

1. Tea and coffee area.

I wish I’d taken a before shot of this area. (This photo is obviously before I cleaned the fan cover). My biggest problem here was the spices. I like having them easily accessible above the stove for cooking, but before they were all just sitting on the shelf and I would forget what was at the back. Plus I had to watch I didn’t knock the front ones down. Now they’re all in a basket I can just pull down. I’ve been told I should keep herbs and spices out of the light, but since that would throw off my newly organised pantry, this is where they’ll stay for now (ideally I’d love to put up a spice rack inside the pantry door).

Coffee is now in a named pottery canister I had hoarded put away (sugar and tea already were in their canisters). Milo and hot chocolate are in small tins to fit on the shelf for easy access. I keep bigger tins in the pantry and just refill the smaller ones.

After I cleaned all the grease off the walls and organised the shelf I thought it looked a bit plain, so I added the cow pictures (I simply cut them out from last year’s dairy calendar, which I’d hoarded kept).

2. Windowsill

I came to realise all the knick knacks on my windowsill were actually making the room look smaller and more cluttered. I moved some things (like the jar with my wooden spoons) down to the bench next to the microwave. I moved the dishwashing liquid down in front of the windowsill and the disinfectant wipes to one of my newly rearranged cupboards. I had a heap of empty glass bottles lined up there as ‘decoration’ and moved half of them to the top of my shelves. The rest I made a bit prettier by adding some ribbon I picked up in the discard bin at Spotlight and some coloured water to catch the morning sunlight. I think by simplifying my windowsill decorations it has helped open the room up and look less cluttered.

*HANDY TIP* I had a segmented lunchbox I found while sorting my plastics cupboard that had no lid. I’ve used it  on my sink to hold my scouring pad and sponge in the bigger section and my plugs and some cotton tips in the two smaller sections. I like to keep cotton tips handy by the sink as they are awesome for cleaning the inside of baby bottle teats and the straws in kids’ drink bottles.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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My Sucky Kitchen

Rise and shine: 7.00am

Chocolate consumed: One lamington, one Mars Bar

Toilet timeouts: 0

On the menu:  Spaghetti Bolognese

All kids in bed by: 8.00pm

Today I…

Cleaned the TV cabinet and TV, wiped down all the walls and door frames in the lounge room, got the kids to take every single last toy back to their bedrooms–yes, it involved bribery, but I can’t remember the last time our lounge room was completely toy free (it didn’t last long, a few toys have already found their way back).

The Kitchen

In my last post I ranted a bit about how much I hate my house. I’m going to rant just a little bit more today, because of all the rooms in my house, I hate my kitchen the most, which is unfortunate considering how much time I spend in there. Basically, it is tiny. Like really tiny. It is a galley style kitchen and the floor space is no wider than the doorway. I don’t know who designed it, but it is so dysfunctional.

The bench space beside the oven is no wider than the kettle, so when I cook I have stuff balanced on the edge of the sink. There’s a little bit of bench space next to the dishwasher, but that’s usually housing the sandwich press or the cakemixer (which I usually never put away after I’ve used them–my bad). That leaves the bench/breakfast bar next to the fridge as the only usable bench space. It’s not too bad if I’m on top of the dishes situation, but if the dishes start piling up on the bench…

There are also hardly any cupboards/storage space. There is a double cupboard and single cupboard under the main bench, which is where I keep all my crockery (dinner plates, bowls, etc), glasses and mugs. There is one redeeming feature here, as someone who lived here before us had the genius idea to screw heaps of hooks into the top of the cupboard for hanging mugs, which frees up a heap of space (though visitors never seem to be able to find the mugs because they’re hidden behind the lip of the cupboard). Then there are four cupboards under the sink. These ones are pretty much unusable because of the mice. It doesn’t matter what I try, they always seem to get in there. Then they poop and wee on everything. It’s so so gross. Not to mention the smell makes me want to gag every time I open the cupboards. I’m constantly having to wash down the cupboards and everything in them (not to mention disinfect!). I just don’t have time to be doing it all the time (plus it’s a pretty unpleasant job).

There are three drawers by the dishwasher, but only two are functional. The bottom of the bottom drawer is pretty dodgy and won’t hold any weight and also slides out of the drawer when the drawer is opened.

We put in some portable shelves next to the fridge and they’ve mostly been housing all our pretty glassware, like wine glasses, etc. Plus other stuff we pretty much never use. There’s also a little set of portable plastic drawers next to the dishwasher (which the mice also like to climb into).

So that’s my sucky sucky kitchen. Here’s a pic of it in its ‘before’ state. The main bench isn’t visible in this pic (it’s next to the fridge and I’m pretty sure covered in dishes). The white lines are to blank out my kids’ names, pictures and school name, in case you were wondering, though I’m sure nobody has good enough eyesight to make them out anyway.

Next post I will start showing you what I’ve been doing to improve the suckiness of my kitchen, including how I’ve been finding new ways to utilise the space (and work around the mouse problem). (Also, not so much ranting next time.)

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in In the Kitchen

 

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In the Pantry (part 5)

Saturday is supposed to be my day off, but as I haven’t been around the blogsphere for a few weeks I thought I had better take my chance to finish up my pantry series while I have a free moment.

Rise and shine: It must have been about 7.30am, I was kind of zombie-like until about 10am after staying up to watch a movie last night, so I’m a bit fuzzy on what time my kids tore off the covers and pleaded with me to get up and make milos (Boy wonder is pretty good at making cuppas, but he’s not yet allowed to pour the hot water by himself).

Chocolate consumed: None! And not by choice, unfortunately. The chocolate supply in our house has dwindled fast this week. Although I did have a sponge roll with chocolate icing for morning tea.

Toilet timeouts: 1

On the menu:  McDonalds & KFC (it is Saturday night after all).

All kids in bed by: 9.30pm (we had SIL and family over tonight, so kids were up late playing with their cousins. Fingers crossed they sleep in tomorrow morning).

My bedtime: 11.00pm

Today I…

Did some washing, loaded the dishwasher and wasted an awful lot of time on the computer looking at old photos of my kids and working on a new picture book idea.

In the Pantry

I actually finished the pantry as part of day 5 of 31 Days to an Organised Home a while ago, but I’ve only just uploaded the final photos onto my computer to share them. I’ve been busily working away on day 6–organising my kitchen.I’ve been taking before and after photos, so I will be sharing my kitchen’s progress as I get time to blog.

But first, the grand unveiling of my finished pantry.

BEFORE

AFTER

The top shelf, which was full of junk and a lot of old packets of food, got totally cleared out (it was sad how much half eaten packets of stale chips were thrown out–such waste). Now there is a box for packets of chips, so packets aren’t getting shoved to the back corner and forgotten. I want to attach pegs to the side of the box so they can easily be used to secure opened packets. There is also a basket for other junk food, like chocolate. Dad’s snacks are hubby’s breakfast bars as he often eats breakfast on the go–having them all in a basket means I don’t have a heap of boxes taking up room. And our alcohol is lined up neatly with taller bottles at the back (which you can’t see in this photo).

I like to keep all the junk food on the top shelf for two reasons: 1. It stops kids raiding it–they tend to go for the more easily accessible fruit and muesli bars. 2. Because I’m short, I need a stool to reach it, which stops me from raiding it too much as well!

One of the unexpected benefits of my new reorganised pantry is that it is so much easier to write my shopping list! It’s so easy now to just look in there and immediately see what is running low. Before, often I wouldn’t know I was out of something until I went to use it. Or I would have a new packet of something stowed away and not realise it was in there and end up buying another packet.

Another added benefit is Boy wonder has been put in charge of getting his own snacks ready for school, since it’s so much easier for him to find and access everything.

So far everyone in the house has been pretty good at putting everything back where it belongs.

If you have any great pantry tips, please share!

In the Pantry Part 1

In the Pantry Part 2

In the Pantry Part 3

In the Pantry Part 4

Kid Funny of the Day

This is actually from the other day. Boy wonder had been learning about the creation story in RE at school and asked me, “If Adam and Eve were the first people, who came next?” I replied, “They had two sons named Cain and Abel.” He was very quick to respond, “I know who came after that: Pa!” He must think his grandfather is pretty old!

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Getting Organised, In the Kitchen

 

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