#64 Clean Out Your Kitchen Cabinets

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#64

Clean Out Your Kitchen Cabinets

As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to consider taking a good look through your kitchen cabinets for all of those things that you may not have used in the last year. Unlike cleaning the pantry, this entails sorting through your plastic storage containers, matching lids and bowls; cleaning out the junk drawers that have accumulated more than the pens, paper clips, and batteries, and tossing anything at all that has rusted over the year.

Organization

My kitchen is a mess after the holidays with all the cooking that gets done and a number of different helpers putting away dishes. I’m lucky if I can find the most basic items usually. Everyone has a way that they like their kitchen staffed and the new year is a great time to reorganize your cooking tools so that they are in the places that make sense to you. It’s also a good time to reassess if things work where they are. Do you need the Vitamix on the counter day after day or do you use your mixer more? Do you like the toaster out or would you like a cleaner line for 2019?

Pots & Pans

Cleaning the cupboards means taking stock of your pots and pans. How worn are your cookie sheets? Do your muffin pans have rust spots? Are your cake pans warped?  How scratched is that frying pan that gets used everyday? Even if you aren’t in a position to replace what’s tired, you can make a list so that you’re aware the next time you stop in at TJMAXX or you see a great sale (May is a good time to purchase cookware).

Everyday Dishes

Several years ago (ten maybe?) on Black Friday, I purchased two boxes of white dinnerware that was deeply discounted. In all, it was service for 16 – which, I’ve never needed to use. I put 8 place settings in the cabinet and then each year as I do inventory for chips and cracks, I dip into the box of extras. White was universal and has been a stable in my kitchen, no matter the changing decor. When I clean out the cabinets, I check for cracks and discoloration and then replace damaged or missing items to bring my stocked selection back up to a serving for eight.

The same goes for my silverware. Each year it seems that I still have all the knives and tablespoons but for some reason, the forks and spoons are always down one or two. In my younger days, I had a haphazard collection of whatever pattern my parents were discarding and a few Goodwill additions. When I could, I picked a pattern and waited for it to go on sale – then I bought two. I use the same strategy as I have for my dinnerware.

Drinking containers

One look at the cupboard that contains glasses and cups demonstrates how eclectic I really am. I’ve attempted to fix this over the last couple of years, finding mugs that I like and getting several; updating the glassware so that there is more than one of any one kind, and ditching all the kiddie plastic cups that were collected from restaurants.

The wine glass and to-go cupboard is the same… somehow I adopted all the containers my children made at birthday parties and graduations over the years and there are more than a couple depicting sorority letters. The fact that they are still there indicates my reluctance to purge that particular cabinet but time is running short!

I’ve decided that 2019 is a year to take charge and I’ll be starting in the kitchen. Won’t you join me and …

Clean out your kitchen cabinets!

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

2017 Was A Bipolar Year

“The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it.”
― Katie McGarry

It’s early morning on New Years Eve and the house is quiet. I am finished with all of the things that feel like responsibilities, finished with my to-do lists that seemed a mile-long last week, and sitting with my coffee reflecting on the past year. Part of me thinks that I should be contemplating on the year in front of me but my heart keeps pulling me back through this one that is passing.

As I opened my Word document I see that I haven’t written since June – my post about Father’s Day. No wonder… shortly after that, life went into bipolar mode. The brief synopsis for those of you who don’t know me personally is that H went into the hospital for pain management on Father’s Day and didn’t come out until a month later. While he was there, I followed through on plans to travel to France to see my first grandchild just weeks after his birth. When I came home, we were told that H’s cancer had advanced beyond the point of treatment and so with heavy hearts we signed up for Hospice care and he passed away on September 11th. The weeks in between were gut wrenching as I watched his body and his life evaporate.

I went into control mode and planned his care – calling in all the people who had offered along the way to help. I am deeply humbled by the love and care that was administered to H those last weeks. Not only from the Hospice people but by the friends and family that loved him so. There was barely a moment of alone time in our home as many who came, came for days on end to provide care while I worked. They took care of me too; and I am eternally grateful for the support. I still have meals in the freezer and I’ve come to depend on them. It will be hard (but necessary for more reasons than one) to go back to Lean Cuisines!

It was difficult to carry out H’s last wishes. Not physically difficult of course but because he was insistent on no service of any kind, closure was difficult for many. I am somewhat like minded, so I have been able to honor his life in other ways. #HarlansCampaign was established in his memory on Facebook as a reminder to live life in kindness. It’s a strange and perhaps unconventional thing but … so was H.

I don’t miss life with cancer. I don’t miss watching him struggle with pain. I don’t miss the conflict of eating well or the constant doctor visits but I desperately miss my friend.

People have fallen back now – it’s normal and it’s ok. Maybe it’s necessary so that I can begin my personal grief journey. I’m not one to publicly emote. I have control issues and if I am emoting – I am not in control. (I am able to explain this clearly to clients as I have much, much practice.)  I find that I must pull inward more tightly at times because some have disenfranchised my grief. It seems that our ten (almost) year relationship was less than because we didn’t officiate it with a ceremony or legal document. Funny – Rocky and I were only married two and a half years but because he was my ‘husband’ – I was entitled to be a ‘widow’. I am not receiving the same respect from some this time around. Oh well… perhaps those people don’t matter.

What does matter is remembering and honoring the life and love that H and I shared. Ten years ago, this weekend we spent most hours on the floor in front of the fireplace getting to know the deepest parts of our hearts. It shattered all perceptions I had about middle age. I’ll save you from TMI but suffice it to say the memory is vivid and happy. Even in this last year while he struggled to live, there were moments that brought those old memories alive again. Just holding his hand and running my thumb across his palm created the same electricity we had shared when he was healthy. Sigh… next thought.

I am reflecting today on the things that H taught me. He taught me about true kindness. I am a kind person (I think) but H reinforced that in me. He reminded me always that people were “just angels from God”. He taught me about acceptance. He was quirky and fun – just owning it. I admired that so. Many of us are challenged to get over what people think of us and I realized in the last ten years that it doesn’t matter… if quirky and fun is authentic then love is the result. It was more than just accepting myself – it was about accepting others. H tolerated – peacefully – all of my faults. “It’s just who your mom is” … he would say to my kids. And he loved me anyway. Those things… those lessons… are stamped on my heart and I work from them every day, or at least, I try to.

The truth is, life goes on. I am a realist and I’ve done this before… yet I find there is a strange dichotomy between acknowledging that life continues and keeping those memories alive and close. Some days I want to erase everything that generates sadness and yet the thought of erasing anything of H is unbearable. Some days I want to look forward and make plans and simultaneously I am sad and lonely because he won’t be doing them with me. As I watch other couples and realize that I am only one now, a gaping hole opens in my heart. Sometimes I sit in our home, running through all the things we talked about doing and I can’t breathe for the ‘aloneness’ it instigates. Those are the moments that I must “push on” – “go forward” but they instill a sense of erasing, of letting go… and that doesn’t feel good either.

Ahh… grief. There it is again. I am an expert. I was running a widows/widowers group a few years ago (I am also an academic expert) and someone asked me to just let him know “how long this will last” so he could know what to expect… it’s the not knowing that catches you. Those moments you think you are just fine and moving along and then, BAM… something dumb catches you – stops you – and takes your breath.

My life changed dramatically this year. My day-to-day life is now different than it was. There are good things though. I am a grandma now and those moments when I am holding my son’s son… they are magical. Rocky would be so very proud. (Wait… another grief moment – see how convoluted it really is). My grandson’s presence in my life is a vivid reminder of life itself – the circle; the cycle; the rhythm; the normalcy.

H and I talked a lot about life and death… I’ve been reflecting on those conversations and the lessons. Perhaps as this new year unfolds I will be compelled to write about them. In the meantime, I continue my grief journey, remember H, stay present, and enjoy the moments as they materialize.

May all the blessing of the universe be available to you in 2018. Happy New Year.

  

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