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Decluttering: Consider usefulness

It’s very funny how the little things get by me.

I was walking through our kitchen (arguably the room in our house that is now the most organized at this point) one day and realized that the tiny counter in front of the stand mixer was just littered with stuff.  A plastic container filled with just a few raisins, the new bag perched atop, and kitchen timers (yes more than one – both get used) blocked my access.

Meanwhile, the thin, long drawer just below the counter held birthday candles and cake decorating stuff that we use about once a year.  It took just a moment to relocate the few things in the drawer and replace them with the timers  The raisins were walked to the pantry (they’d been on the counter to remind us of their existence.  After 10 years of this, I’m thinking we’ll remember).  Why had I never thought of this?

Considering the usefulness of each item in our home answers the question of priority, and that in turn answers the question “Do I keep this, move it, or toss it?”  Just because something has landed in a drawer doesn’t been it deserves permanent occupancy there.  But I’d never really thought about it, so the small cake decorating kit had a little home while the timers — and raisins! — cluttered the counter.

Which got me thinking about our kitchen towels.

We have no dishwasher and keep our kitchen towels in two bins under a work table.  We use dish cloths to wipe down the dishes, dish towels to dry them, and bar mop towels to wipe down the counters.  I also have tea towels for constant hand wiping while cooking.

The bins were overflowing.  Who needs this many towels?  Who needs this many towels that are mostly over 10 years old?  The old ones were too old to be of any use to anyone else (or us!), so they often were used as bar mop towels, and the kitchen laundry piled up.

I got rid of all of the bar mop and dish-drying towels except 2 newer ones, and kept the newer dish cloths.   The longest lasting, best quality towels were from Williams Sonoma, so I returned there to buy 8 new towels.  I bought 5 new bar-mop towels from Target.  I bought all in white so I could wash them with the bathroom towels in one load. The new towels fit neatly into the bins, and really help dry the dishes effectively (in the winter if we let them air dry, it takes forever to get things put away).

On that note, it’s really very nice to get things put away at the end of the day and not wake up to loads of dishes to put away in the morning.  We have one drainer by the sink, and a collapsible drainer I highly recommend by Progressive for the overflow (dishes brought home late from packed lunches, etc.).  When all is dry, the collapsible drainer goes under the sink.  I’m considering having both drainers be collapsible to allow for more counter room as long as it can be adequately dried by the end of the night (don’t put a wet drainer in a dark place unless you enjoy rapid bacterial growth.  Ick.)

It has been lovely to have a working kitchen where I can spend a good deal of time making my family good food.

Consider the usefulness of the things you use all of the time.  Are they working for you?

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