Odds and Ends in the Kitchen

I had big plans for this week. Big! I bought a rug and then accessories. I drove to IKEA and deliberated between finishes. Then I sat down on Tuesday to put together my Swedish find from China only to realize 15 minutes later that I had two right panels instead of a right and left. I quadruple checked my work and called the store to confirm that, yes, I bought a world-wide manufacturing error that wouldn’t get resolved before Friday. Oh well. Maybe next week.

On Wednesday I created a Plan B and worked towards wrapping up some odds and ends in the kitchen. I replaced the plastic containers I talked about last week with glass, stocked up on the canning jars I use to store almost everything, bought storage lids for the jars, and made two other small purchases I’ll talk about in a bit.

One project always leads to another, so I cleaned out the refrigerator, too.

It looks good from afar, but it’s far from good on the inside. The woman who used to clean our house said that before she did her weekly shopping, she deep cleaned her refrigerator top to bottom. Everything came out and she washed and disinfected the interior. While the refrigerator dried, she went through all the food (now on the counter) and tossed anything old or near expiration. Then she put everything back and made her grocery list. She made Martha Stewart look lackadaisical.

“Well,” I said, “that’s why you do what you do for a living, and why I pay you to do it.”

I miss her.

Cleaning out the refrigerator seemed like it would take a while, so I decided to first tackle the small projects to gain a sense of achievement. The first thing I did was lay out our new Dish Drying Mat. We’ve always used towels before, and aside from the inconvenience of having one less towel, we ran the risk of damaging our cabinets if the towel failed to hold all the water from drying dishes. Because of the way our sink sits, drainboards don’t work. We’ve never had a problem using just towels, but I wanted a proper dish mat. Done and done. I think it looks nice and simple, and it’s very absorbent. What a difference from using a towel! I love it. As far as dish mats go, of course.

Next, I hung a little towel bar on one of the cabinet doors (the cabinet doors I need to replace with news ones sitting in the garage). I’ve wanted one since August 28, 2008. I know the date because that’s when Nicole revealed her kitchen remodel, and I asked her about the towel bar. She said, “I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond!” I said, “Cool, I’ll go pick one up!”

Exactly three years and 8 months later, I did.

Tackling the storage drawer was a breeze. I decided to buy the Pyrex brand glass containers. The price worked better with my budget, and the BPA-free plastic lids don’t bother me as much as it would to store glass lids in a small drawer. It looks like I went from thousands of containers to just a few, but I only lost four pieces. Everything fits so nicely that the drawer seems cavernous. I’m going to buy a few ultra-small containers, and so that everything fits I’ll store the lids underneath the containers. Right now there is enough room for them to hang out on their sides.

The last task I used to procrastinate involved transferring nuts into canning jars. Fascinating! I ran out of canning jars months ago, but kept forgetting to buy more. I use them to store nuts and seeds in the refrigerator and pasta sauces in the freezer. I noticed Tamar Adler used them in the videos I shared yesterday to store her food for the week, so I figured now was as good a time as any to buy more. They are so inexpensive. I love canning jars.

And then, the refrigerator. It didn’t take as long as I feared. It never does.

Much better. The second picture is a close up of my canning jars so you can see how I store my nuts and seeds (I use them in salads). You can also see the BPA-free storage lids I finally remembered to buy. I drove ten miles out of my way to buy those things, but they’re worth the $200 extra I had to spend in gas. The standard silver ring and lid that comes with canning jars rusts easily. These plastic lids will last much, much longer and they are infinitely easier to use.

Now all I have left to do is the freezer. Dear God, the freezer.

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This post was part of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that details the steps I am taking to create an intentional home. You can see more of my goals and completed projects here. To learn more about this project, start here.

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Now it’s your turn! Feel free to share how you have lived according to the William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Made a plan? Cleaned a drawer? Bought a sofa? Tell us about it with a link or comment. A few guidelines:

        1. Please link to a specific post, not a general blog address.
        2. Your post must relate to your efforts to create an intentional home. I have a delete button, and I’m not afraid to use it.
        3. No links to giveaways, please.
        4. There are buttons to add to your post or sidebar, too, thanks to the lovely Alex, of Type A Calligraphy. Please link the buttons back to this site.
        5. Let’s use this weekly link up as an opportunity to gather inspiration and motivation. Click links. Discover new people. Say hi and good job. I know I will.

 



Comments
54 Responses to “Odds and Ends in the Kitchen”
  1. I love the idea of switching to glass in the kitchen – in fact, I went so far as to buy some glass containers to do just that. However, the practicality of sending leftovers to work for hubby’s lunches in plastic that can be dropped and forgotten and tossed around was just too overwhelming. So, I cook in all glass (LOVE), and I store some things in glass, but I’m still a plastic junkie. Love my Tupperware (the real thing, not the cheap-o stuff that people mistakenly call Tupperware because it’s become a name like “grab me a Kleenex” when it’s actually the Target off-brand tissue). Hmm…I might be a Tupperware snob, or perhaps I’ve just thought about this topic a bit too much. ANYWAY! Kudos to you on switching to glass – I LOVE the look of the after.

    Also, this week I linked up a garden post that I wrote because we FINALLY managed to rip up our old garden bed (and anti-weed fabric) after two years of sitting on the back deck, sipping our coffee and talking about how bad it looked and how we should REALLY do something about it. Someday. It feels good to have it done. And I think WM would approve. :-)

    As always, a delight to visit and thanks for the opportunity to link up and see what others are doing. Congrats again on the Small Notebook mention! :-)

  2. Monica says:

    Love the glass. LOVE. You may have just started an obsession. Thanks. ;) Now I will have to ponder if I can get myself to part with my matchy matchy set of plastic containers. The lids click into each other and I love that. I must do some research. Have I mentioned that I love the glass?

  3. Corrin says:

    Be careful with Pyrex – it’s now made of soda lime glass instead of borosilicate and shatters much easier.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/january/home-garden/glass-cookware/glass-cookware/index.htm

    • Jules says:

      Oh how scary for that family! I don’t plan on using the Pyrex to cook–only storage. I know this sounds paranoid, but I have never trusted glass in the oven. I prefer stainless steel. My 13×9 pan has never been a problem, but I’ll be safe (rather than sorry!) with these new pieces.

  4. kylydia says:

    I had no idea they had lids like that for canning jars. I’ll have to look for those online. I also need more canning jars! Thanks for the reminder.

    I love your refrigerator, by the way!

    • Jules says:

      I saw the lids on a blog a couple of years ago and have been meaning to buy them every since. I got mine at Walmart. Look for a store with a canning supply section and you’ll be good.

  5. Amy says:

    Great job, Jules! Sometimes it is the little things. Also, this may inspire me to do the same. Just last week I was thinking how I need to clean out the fridge. Instead I just threw out that gone wrong and wiped down the bits to be seen . . . no taking everything out, taking apart, deep cleaning deep drawers, or otherwise crawling in the refrigerator to clean every corner.

    And what’s with the glass? I purchased my first glass containers the first of this year and I LOVE them. Perhaps it’s that they’re making them in better shapes and sizes–and they’re not quite so mamby pamby. Or, perhaps it’s just that I’ve now reached the age where I actually notice such things . . .

    • Jules says:

      Yeah, usually I toss things out and wipe down any spills. Yesterday I decided to go for it, and I’m glad I did! I don’t know what it is about glass, but I’m sold. My sister in-law told me a trick–she uses it to serve dinner instead of her regular serving platters or serving from the stove. Then, when dinner is over, she pops lids on everything and she’s done.

  6. Samantha says:

    Your kitchen looks great! I just switched over to those same pyrex containers and I love them! The only thing I noticed is that when I microwave leftovers in them they get HOT and there’s no great way to grab them, so you have to be careful. Thought I’d try and spare you the burned finger tips I got the first couple of times I used them. :)

    Also, may I ask why you keep nuts in the fridge? I keep mine at room temp; is this a preference thing or I am I doing it wrong (very possible)?

    Thanks! Love your blog!

    • Jules says:

      I have to use oven mitts to get dishes out of my microwave. My dishes are dark green, and I guess the minerals or metals in the finish get hotter than the food. Total pain in the butt!

    • Sandra says:

      Apart from using mits to get hot things out of the microwave, I will often sit the offending super hot container on a plate that does not heat up as much & put them both in the microwave. This way I can just lift things out by holding the plate.

  7. Missie says:

    I just switched to the Pyrex a few months ago. I use some plastic for bringing my yogurt to work & bought really small Tupperware (the real stuff :)) for the little things. But I am not going to reheat food in plastic anymore. Your fridge looks great! I’m amazed at how few condiments you have in your doors. Mine are full & I swear we use almost all of it pretty regularly. Maybe that is where I need to direct my attention this weekend!

    • Jules says:

      We aren’t really condiment people, and I usually make salad dressings. It kills me that I have been buying the Annie’s dressing for a couple of months now. I have to break down and make my own soon.

  8. Kathy says:

    I love that you have a bottle Veuve Clicquot in your fridge. It’s our favorite. Did you know that George Washington used to serve it?

    Did you buy the drying mat at Bed, Bath and Beyond?

    Good work!

    • Jules says:

      Actually, I don’t know where we got that bottle! It was either from my husband’s work or from Helena’s mom’s funeral. That was her absolute favorite.

      I bought everything from Walmart, if you can believe it. They are the only store in my area (and not even in my area, technically) with a canning supply section.

  9. Susan says:

    You’re an inspiration! I must go home and clean the fridge tonight after work. We have a bunch of old Pyrex storage containers with glass tops. They’re easily found in consignment shops and garage sales but the plastic tops with your new ones are probably much safer as you won’t have to worry about chipping. Perhaps it’s time for me to replace?…

    Must ask though, two boys and no milk?

    • Jules says:

      In the before picture you can see (sort of) a container of soy milk and another of almond milk. That’s as close as we get to milk around here.

  10. jeanne says:

    Just read last week’s post on the pot. and onions–inspirational. I have the same lazy susan cabinet next to my sink. It is full of corning ware, mixing bowls, and misc. small salsa vessels, etc. We keep our pot.and onions in the front hallway–our version of “cold storage”. UNSLIGHTLY, seasonal dependent and CRAZY–my husb is a costco freak and our family of 3 has veggies for 8-10. I need to figure out another option. Did you just throw out the plastic containers? I hate them, but can’t seem to throw them out either! Where did you get your salad spinner? I need one, but thought $25 at Target was a bit pricey! You conitnue to inspire. Love the projects!

    • Jules says:

      My salad spinner was a wedding present, so it’s 12 years old! The larger one broke, but this one still works. I haven’t gone to the trouble or expense of buying another big one. Yes, I threw out the containers. Some were 12 years old (more wedding presents) and really were at the end of their life. Had any of them been the real deal Tupperware, I would have donated them.

  11. Jenn says:

    I really need to clean my fridge. I do the same Pyrex and canning jar food storage thing and really enjoy it. Of course sometimes I have to hunt for jars in the playroom because my girlies use them as cages for their little toy animals and the occasional princess doll.

    One idea for the old plastic food storage is to use them as organizers in drawers. I did that for a bit when I first retired mine from the kitchen and it worked pretty well.

  12. Hey Girl,

    (like my Ryan Gosling impersonation??)

    You rock my world. I’m gonna go clean my fridge. I can’t wait to see the freezer post b/c mine is that same pull out style, which I was warned against getting — and mine is just a DISASTER.

    • Jules says:

      Hey there, yourself, Girl. ;)

      I warn everyone to stay away from these refrigerators. I swear, the best refrigerators are the old fashioned freezer on top jobs. I don’t know why we moved away from them, but if I am ever need to buy another refrigerator, that’s what I would get. I wanted a Smeg way back when we were doing the remodel, but those are cost prohibitive.

      • Jeanne says:

        Whoa . ..u guys hate the freezer on bottom???? Why? I have been craving one for next fridge I buy. Thought it would be way better. The freezer on top is a mess and my veggies and fruit disappear in lower bins to rot. I thought freezer on bottom would be much better. Please share your thoughts and also if u like stainless steel. Thanks!

        • Jenn says:

          I love my fridge with the freezer on bottom. It’s just one of those things that people tend to have strong feelings about one way or the other. The biggest complaint I hear against them is that it’s a pain to bend down and dig stuff out of the back, the top drawer part can be hard to slide out when packed full and it can be tricky to fit certain things because the top drawer part cuts the space up.

  13. Lisa says:

    ooooh! You have just solved my dishrag problem! I must hie myself off to BBB! (completely unrelated anecdote: my Italian father in law doesn’t hear the difference between “beyond” and “behind”…so he calls that store Bed Bath and Behind. Now the rest of us do too.)

    I need to switch out the tupperware for pyrex too.

    You must be so happy with all the results you’ve gotten from this project. I can’t wait till we stop moving every 18 months and I can settle into one place. You’d think all this moving would make me have less stuff, but instead I hang onto everything, because I never know what I might need in the next place.

    • Jules says:

      I can see how you would be tempted to hang onto stuff. That makes sense.

      My mom always called “Diet Rite” “Stride Rite,” after the kid shoe store. We grew up doing it, too. Of course, we knew it was wrong, unlike my mom. :)

  14. HopefulLeigh says:

    A dish drying mat. Who knew? I’ve been using folded up towels because the plastic mat won’t fit where I have to keep the drying mat. But what you have looks flexible enough that it could be a good solution.

    • Jules says:

      Who knew, right? I know of some bloggers who made them, but I wasn’t about to do that. I didn’t know they existed in stores. I was pleased to find one! I thought for sure one day I was going to have to break down and buy one on etsy.

  15. I need the dish mat, too. Rubbermaid made a nice big wire drainer–and no drainboard big enough to fit underneath it when it’s loaded. Crazy.

    I wanted to thank you for your post this week. I ent into withdrawal last week–I love reading up on everyone’s projects!

  16. We have similar kitchen preferences…does that even make sense? I store almost everything in glass. Love Pyrex and Anchor Hocking. I am totally picking up some canning jars and those lids next time I’m in Walmart.

    Did you notice the wide-mouth funnel that Tamar was using to fill her canning jars? Yep, gonna need one of those too!

    Love your post as usual.

    • Jules says:

      I did! I laughed when I saw her do that because I’m always the clown using my hands and having things fall all over the counter (like walnuts). The ones at Walmart aren’t BPA free, and I felt weird making such a point to buy glass and then turn around and buy BPA filled plastic! I’m going to find a stainless steel funnel or something without BPA.

  17. Susan G says:

    I like those jar lids – will have to look for them. Maybe I can find them on-line – ANYTHING to avoid going into WM! Maybe it’s just ours, but it always puts me in such a bad mood! In the refrigerator is great – too much humidity here to keep lots of those things out. Our old plastic makes its way into the garage where my husband keeps his wood and nail collection. :) I am going to buy Pyrex next week on my spring break week off – woo hoo. Wild times! :)

  18. Kelly says:

    We use canning jars for a lot of storage but I’ve never thought to use them in the refrigerator. Great idea. And it looks so good. Another reminder about how good it feels to take just a little time to clean things up.

    • Jules says:

      I use the quart-sized ones to drink smoothies in the summer. It started off as a way for my to keep track of my fluid intake, but eventually I grew to love the heavy weight on them in my hands. The small ones were fantastic for teaching Nicholas to drink from a glass, and they are so thick that I never worried about one breaking if they dropped.

  19. Sandra says:

    Great post :) I’ve been looking at those pyrex containers at the shops & wondering how I could justify buying some – now I know, so thanks! I have some Tupperware & a collection of cheap plastic too, but that is letting me down & needs sorted – in fact I think that is my drawer that you photographed lol – the Tupperware is still good, but way too expensive to buy enough to cover all my storage issues & I do not like putting it in the microwave or dishwasher. I always chuck & wipe out my fridge each week after grocery shopping while I am putting the new supplies in. I also keep my nuts in the freezer & use them straight from there. Have a great weekend!

    • Jules says:

      One thing I was cautious to do was to keep my Pyrex purchase low. This way, I am forced to keep on top of the contents of the refrigerator. If I run out of storage, that means I need to clean out the fridge.

  20. Yay for glass storage! Those jar lids are so clever.

    I always feel like a better person when our fridge is clean, but somehow that doesn’t motivate me to do it more often.

  21. Anita says:

    Great job! I love your stories and I can’t stop laughing about the $200.00 in gas!! How true.

  22. AmyLovesTeal says:

    I have that drying mat. And the towel bar. And the Pyrex (ditched the plastic a couple of years ago). If it weren’t for the jar lids, I would swear you went shopping in my kitchen! Mine are the old school metal kind.

  23. Kristen says:

    Hi Jules! I just love everything about this post. Also, great minds think alike! I use mason jars (all sizes) for absolutely everything, including carrying my lunch everyday! I like to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that so even though my lunch bag has a million jars, it’s worth it! I discovered those white BPA-free lids a while ago (why are they so darn hard to find?!) and from then on I was hooked. In fact so much of our food is now in glass jars I just bought new labels this week because it’s getting hard for everyone (including me) to figure out what’s in each jar! I also replaced all my plastic years ago with the Pyrex (with the dark blue lids) and am happy to report that after a million cycles in the dishwasher they are as good as new. Oh and we have those same holders for our towels in our re-d0ne master bathroom (one of the William Morris projects I actually completed). Life changing – on all accounts! :-)

  24. Pamelotta says:

    I love the jars! Everything looks so clean and fresh in your fridge. I have tons of mason jars from marrying into a family that cans a million tomatoes every year, but I also have an addiction to other jars. Pickle jars, salad dressing jars, you name it. In fact, I started buying a specific type of spaghetti sauce because of the jar it’s in. It has the measurements on the side so I can tell how much I’ve got!
    Great job this week!

  25. Ha! I saw that you posted this morning, but I didn’t have a chance to really come back and look until now. I thought that towel bar looked familiar!

  26. May says:

    You are writing about kitchen storage and I am laughing out loud like I am tuned into a sit com! The Swedish find from China and the timely trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond…priceless!
    Aren’t canning jars just the best?

  27. Sara says:

    I also tossed all of my plastic containers and exchanged then with glass ones. I love it & I recommend it to everyone. I never throw them out on accident at work, I have saved money not having to replace them all the time, they always look (and smell) clean and I feel kind of fancy. Best part, my husband remembers to bring them home now.

  28. Dusa says:

    For your Pyrex storage drawer, you can always try the ‘tension curtain rod’ trick found here (Imperfect Homemaking blog). And thank you so much for your Wm Morris posts – I look forward to Friday!!
    http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/2011/10/organizedhome-day-6-peek-inside-my.html

  29. Scrappyjen says:

    Love that organized fridge – great work. If your looking for inspiration to tackle the freezer check out i {heart} organizing (http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/you-asked-kitchen-cabinet-tour-q.html) she has an insanely organized freezer it will blow your socks off.

  30. May I ask why you refrigerate your seeds and nuts? Ive been storing mine in glass in the pantry…

    Great post!

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.