The last time I wrote about my clothing check list system was back in 2008. I think at this point we can call it the “Time-Proven, Well-Worn, Updated and Revised Clothing Checklist” but looking at it that seems sort of ungainly so let’s just stick with “The Clothing Checklist”
The original list was created in response to the fact that I had managed to accumulate way too many clothes for every single person in my household. We went well beyond the Proverbs 31:21 “She is not concerned for her household when it snows — all her charges are doubly clothed.” and were over-clothed by – a bunch. Drawers and closets yawned with too many options and too much stuff. The children’s rooms could be carpeted in clothing (and most times appeared to be), the laundry was never under control.
Once I put together the list I was able to cut back our clothing to a manageable amount. As long as we pull the list out a few times and cull. Friends hand you stuff, grandparents send gifts the inflow doesn’t stop. Clothing also dies: it is torn, stained, outgrown. So once you have cut down to the list, and gotten rid of the dead items there are gaps especially with boys and jeans and knees with holes. The list helps with all of that by setting limits and creating an automatic checklist.
Limits are especially helpful when working with your children. Yes, they may love all 10 pairs of pajamas that they own, but really the list says two – so pick.
This is a stub post of sorts for a series of lessons I am preparing for my children on kitchen skills.
Welcome to my kitchen: What says “home” better than a well run kitchen? I suppose there is a bit of irony in the fact that most of what I learned about kitchen management I actually learned in commercial kitchens, but I suppose that is a sign of the times I grew up in. There is so much that goes into creating a efficient, well run kitchen – but the reality is that if you wish to eat well and save money you have to cook and cooking is much easier, safer and more enjoyable in a well run kitchen.
If you were to step into a commercial kitchen you would see more or less exactly what you see in the home kitchen only on a larger scale. The commercial kitchen will have stations where particular activities take place, hand washing, dish washing, cooking, prep stations, storage: dry, refrigerated and frozen, trash disposal. Additionally every activity from selecting the menu to cleaning up at the end of the day is carefully planned, this is the workflow. The home kitchen also has these elements, though they may be a little more difficult to identify. There will be work stations, but they often do double or triple duty. Your kitchen sink is your handwash station and your prep-cleaning station and your dishwashing station. The same counter that you do prep-cutting on will be used for baking. Your workflow will be different, but it should be planned.
Now I don’t pretend that this is the only way to run a kitchen. Kitchens are rather personal things, but there are some universal basics and many more hints, tips and tricks that you can pick up. So let’s start with the basics.
Safety: Before you start there are some safety basics to know. Safety really does come first.
Pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen? No: safety first when it comes to cooking.
Shoes: You should wear closed toe, sensible, non-skid shoes. If you are working with hot oil I recommend wearing non-porous shoes. There is almost nothing that hurts quite as badly as a grease spill that lands on your foot. Even a drop of hot oil on a sandal shod foot can be painful for days. Dropped knives or cutlery, boiling water all spell disaster on bare feet or feet inadequately protected by open toe shoes or sandals. Avoid high heals or shoes with substandard arch support – if you are on your feet a lot cooking and then cleaning you will want supportive foot wear. Non-skid soles will help keep you from slipping, which in a kitchen with a hot stove could go from embarrassing to disastrous in an instant.
Shirts and blouses: Shirts should be cuffed at the wrist and somewhat trim fitting. If you are wearing a loose fitting long sleeve you should consider wearing sleeve garters or a chef’s jacket. Likewise if you are working with heat you might want to seriously consider a chef’s jacket over short sleeves.
Chef’s Jackets and Aprons: A chef jacket or apron will protect your clothing from spills, flour dust, water, oil and all those little kitchen “incidences”. Chef’s jackets can be purchased from uniform supply stores and some kitchen supply stores – you can also find them online. Aprons can be found nearly everywhere and come in a wide range of designs and colors. Pick something sensible. You can find many really pretty aprons that are very serviceable, but you can find many more that, while super cute, are just not cut our for kitchen work. Aprons come in a variety of styles, look for a butcher, cook, or chef bib style apron. Bistro aprons are designed to be worn with chef’s jackets and those cute little hostess aprons are worn to serve not to cook. Go for a sturdy, comfortable and washable fabric such as cotton twill.
Legs: Be extra careful if you are wearing shorts or a skirt in the kitchen. Hot liquid spills are the biggest concern. A long apron can help save your legs.
Hair: If you have long hair pull it back; if it is really long wear it up. While it is unlikely, it has happened that hair has been caught in mixers and blenders and set ablaze by gas burners. Be safe.
Cooking and baking require heat. Anything hot enough to cook your dinner is hot enough to burn you. So a bit of safety knowledge about hot items and fire is important.
Toasters, stove tops, ovens they all get hot. Exercise common sense while working in the kitchen and use the proper safety equipment.
Equipment for Handling hot things:
Pot holders and oven mitts: Pot holders and oven mitts are absolute necessities in the kitchen. They serve basically the same purpose: to protect your hands from heat. I like having at least two pot holders and one oven mitt available in the kitchen, handy at all times. Pot holders are usually square and most have a decorative side and a Teflon or silicon heat resistant side. Oven mitts are shaped like a mitten and commonly have a heat resistant layer covered with decorative cloth. Most commercial mitts and holders are rated to the temperature to which they protect, but the type you find at your local department store probably won’t be. If you get a padded mitt or holder with at least one side or layer of neoprene (usually rated to 400degrees), silicon(can be rated as high as 500degrees), or Teflon or silicon sprayed cloth (this will only be rated up to about 250) you can pretty much hand any common kitchen duty. I have no idea what the plan, padded cloth would be rated to but my guess is around 200. If you are just pulling a cookie sheet out of the oven that is probably good enough, but if you are doing much more than that spring for the better mitts and pot holder.
A couple notes about using pot-holders and mitts. If they are frayed, burnt, or otherwise damaged they will have the tendency to not protect very well at the damaged spot. Save yourself the pain and replace them. Also be careful to keep your mitts and holders dry. A moist or wet pot holder will not protect your hand, the water in the fibers can turn to steam and really burn you. Keep them dry.
Pot handle covers: If you like to cook in cast-iron you might want to invest in a handle cover for your pots or skillets. These can be very nice especially if you are serving in your caste iron.
Trivets: Protect your surfaces (counters and tables) from being scorched. It is nice to have a couple of them placed in convenient locations in the kitchen.
Splatter screens: Splatter screens are lovely when you are using hot oil, frying chicken, making spaghetti sauce. They can be very useful in keeping your stove top clean and to keep oil from splattering you.
For most fires in the kitchen all you need to do is kill the heat and suffocate the fire. If something is on fire in the oven, turn off the oven and then leave it shut until the fire stops. If there is something in the toaster on fire unplug it and then cover with a wet kitchen towel. For stove top fires turn off the heat and cover the pot or burner. (if your controls are located so that you can’t turn off the heat without burning yourself cover than, kill the heat. Whatever you do NEVER throw water on a kitchen fire, especially an oil fire.
Here is why:
It is also very good to have a fire extinguisher located in the kitchen in an accessible place. If you have a fire that is getting a little out of control then it can save your home. Small fire extinguishers are in theory good for a long time; I have read as long as 15 years. Check the gauge on your extinguisher when you check your fire alarms (most fire departments recommend you do this on the daylight savings switch days). If the gauge is in the “green” zone it should be good to go. You will also want to inspect the rubber hoses and nozzles for wear and deterioration and the handle and top lever for rust or wear. If you see these things replace the extinguisher. If you extinguisher is older than seven years, has no posted expiration date and no gauge you should probably replace it. Once you use the extinguisher you will need to replaced or recharged it. Be sure you know how to use the fire extinguisher, including how to open the clamp if it is wall mounted. You really don’t want to be teaching yourself how to use a fire extinguisher while your kitchen is smoldering. Also, don’t be shy about using it. If you have a fire that is out of control, plastic burning, a big oil fire that is spreading — just use it. They sooner you take action to put the fire out the more likely you are to actually get the fire out and while the dry-chem from a fire extinguisher is a pain to clean up it is better than having a full blown house fire.
If you catch on fire, your hair or clothing, don’t panic. Remember the stop, drop and roll thing. The absolute worst thing you can do is run through the house. If your hair is on fire smoother it with a thick towel or a wet kitchen towel or stop drop and roll if it is getting too exciting. I caught the end of my braid on fire once when I was young and I was able to dunk it in water. Hopefully you won’t have to ever deal with these things, but it is helpful to think about what you should do before you actually need to do something.
Every six months or so I walk into the children’s rooms to put away laundry, open the door and realise that I can’t fit everything in there. I don’t think the children’s clothing actually breeds in the laundry, but it sure seems like it sometimes. We start the season with the “right” amount of clothing and then through gifts, hand-me-downs and bringing things up from storage as the children grow into a new size we end up stuffed to the gills again. Now if I was smart I would pull clothing equal to the gifts/hand-me-downs and I wouldn’t let a storage box open before I had sorted out the smaller size but most times I am just not that smart or diligent.
So the clothing multiplies and before many months go by there is just too much in the drawers again, so I have to cut back. I have written before about my clothing inventory and clothing checklist here. This system works really well for me.
So the time has come to go through the clothing again.
The Official Holiday Grand Plan started on August 31. In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.
This week is the post for week four, delayed but not forgotten.
This week the Master Bedroom is getting a good cleaning.
Week Two follow up: The past two weeks have been a bit “up in the air” for me with us starting schooling and with Kyle being gone. So far so good though. The cleaning schedule is going well and the planning is starting to really take shape.
Week Three: Cleaning: The Master bedroom. Since the children aren’t allowed to play in our room it is the cleanest and most organised room in our home. Easy week this week.
Preparing for the Holidays: If you are going to order Christmas cards this is a good time to starting thinking about that. We are looking at getting family pictures made later this month. It is a good time to get a photo sitting, it takes time to get photos back and near the holidays appointments are at a premium.
Planning: The Offical Grand Plan has recomendations for this week. My list is a little different since we started a couple weeks earlier.
Gifts: I have a list and am checking it twice. I want to sew pajamas this year. The fabric stores are getting in their holiday fabrics and the craft stores are stocking up as well. I will start the purchasing for gifts to buy in two weeks. Cards: This week I start working on my cross stitch cards. Parties: No planning for parties this week. Menus: No Holiday menu planning this week. Decorating: No decorating this week. Baking: I have my cookie and candy lists and I am starting to watch for sales for thing I will need. Devotionals:We are considering a Jesse Tree this year – I have a couple websites that I have been looking at for this. I want to have an Advent Calendar, an Advent Wreath and an Advent Chain – I purchased a calendar last year that will be useable this year. We have the items for the wreaths and the chain. I would like to print out prayer books for the Advent Season – I am keeping my eyes open for art work for these. Traditions:Nothing really planned for this week.
Things keep moving along. Next week I will start adding in some of the fall plans (whoopee).
The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31. In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.
We had a fantastic trip last weekend and we have started schooling again. This is the third week for the Grand Plan, The Entry/Foyer week. Since my house is a little different than the Grand Plan I am also adding my laundry room to the list.
Week Two follow up: My time away gave me a chance to think about the Questions from last week. I made notes in my planner to help me keep our goals in mind. We want to be sure that this year we emphasise the spiritual and play down the material, focusing on “special times” not “special things”.
Week Three: Cleaning: The entry/foyer/laundry room is my focus this week.
Preparing for the Holidays: Check out the holiday prep items. This week I am making plans for the holiday baking. Each year I like to make six types of cookies and three candies. By deciding what we will make this week I can keep my eyes open for sales and stock up on the good stuff when it goes on sale. I also need to check my craft supplies to see if there is anything I have on hand that should be used so I am not buying what I own.
Planning: The lists continue to get fleshed out as I work on them.
Gifts: I am starting to think of specific gifts for the people on my lists. Cards: I need to get patterns for the cross stitch cards and then start looking into cards for the rest of my list. Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party. I am still thinking about how we want to do this. Menus: I want to have some freezer meals made for when things get a little nutty near the holidays. Decorating: Everything seems to be in good shape from last year. I haven’t checked the lights, but I will do that once they go on sale again. Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished. Devotionals:We are considering a Jesse Tree this year. I want to have an Advent Calendar, an Advent Wreath and an Advent Chain. I would like to print out prayer books for the Advent Season. Traditions:Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do? Still working on this. Zoo lights and maybe the Nutcracker with my mom.
Again I have to keep reminding myself that the goal isn’t to blow Chritmas bigger it is to make the planning easier. Hope everyone has a great week.
The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31. In order to accommodate the Advent season I have started earlier, last week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.
The weather has been cooler this week and I have been busy so far. Getting things ready for Back to school(ing) and getting ready for the end of summer cabin trip has taken up a bit of time. This week is Question Week, one of my favorite aspects of planning.
Week One follow up: The children and I did a good scrub-a-dub on the porch and Kyle helped with re organising the area. I have a list of outdoor maintenance items that need attended to next month and my lists have been created.
Week Two: Cleaning: This week we come indoors. Here is where my cleaning list departs from the Official Grand Plan list. And really, that is ok. My house is laid out differently than the person who made the list. I don’t have a guest room, master bath or family room. I do have a home office and if I tried to fit both children’s rooms into one week I would go more than a little batty. So we switch it up a bit. This week I am actually NOT doing a room. Basically because I am going to be gone most of the week. If you are doing this along with me you might want to take a look at the cleaning schedule that the grand plan uses and think through how to make it work for you home. We all have different houses and no one list is going to work for everyone.
Preparing for the Holidays: Taking stock. Every year I go out after the Holiday’s and snag a few rolls of paper, a bag or two of ribbons and maybe some cute tags and gift bags. I also try to hit the art supply store and catch their clearance racks in late November and then again after Christmas. But all of that won’t do me a bit of good if I don’t take the time to figure out what I have and where it is. So my big thing for preparing for the holidays this week is checking out what I’ve already got on hand for Christmas and Advent.
Planning: Last week I made up my basic lists this week I am fleshing them out and adding to them. We also have some questions to think about.
Gifts: What are we buying and how much are we spending and how important is the whole “gift thing” anyhow? (insert anti-consumerism rant here). What gifts am I making? Cards: How many cards do I need? Which cards am I cross stitching? Parties: We will be doing our Christmas eve party. Is there anything we want to do differently? Menus: What can I do ahead? What are the menus for the feast days? If there are any new recipes I want to try for the big Holiday meals I want to make them at least once before hand. Decorating: Do I know where my decorating stuff from last year is? Do I need to replace anything? Is there anything new I would like? Baking: I need the cookie and candy list finished. What gifts am I baking? Devotionals:What worked in years past? What didn’t? How can we focus more fully on Christ during the Advent season? When I get home I am goingto be looking around online for some new ideas. Are there any books I want to look through? Traditions:Are we going to need tickets for special events? When do they go on sale? which things do we definitely want to do?
The goal for this week is to get the “theme” of Christmas set. Note, this isn’t some marathon planning session where I decide in nitty gritty detail what each moment of each day will be. Nor is the idea to blow Christmas into the focus of the next 12 weeks. The goal is to set aside a small amount of time for Christmas/Advent planning early enough that I am not stressed and rushing around during Advent. The other thing I like about the “Grand Plan” is that I will be able to hit each area of my home for a deep clean/organization session. In theory I would do this anyway, but in practice it doesn’t get done unless I plan for it.
The Official Holiday Grand Plan starts on August 31. In order to accommodate the Advent season I am starting earlier, this week, and I hope to have everything in order and ready for a calm and spiritual Advent season.
Week One It is the middle of August and December Holidays and the cold and snow of winter seem a million miles away, but we all know that they are right around the corner. It is also a busy time for moms. School is starting, the summer is ended, there are peaches to preserve and weeds to pull and all those small projects that need doing in between squeezing in a last bit of summer fun or beating off the late summer heat.
Cleaning: The front porch is the space on the agenda this week. While I am outside looking at my front porch I am also looking around the outside of the house and making some notes for the fall maintenance. The cleaning list linked above is a good place to start.
Planning: I use my family planning notebook instead of a separate holiday planner. This is called “List week” because you are setting up your lists. I have the following that I am making:
Gift list – who we are shopping for
Card list – collect and update addresses
Parties – which parties we will host
Menus – menus for the holiday meals we will be hosting and rough menus for the Holiday season.
Decorating – plan for decorating for Advent and Christmas
Baking – plan for the baking needs for gifts and goodies
Devotionals – what devotionals will we be doing during Advent/Christmas and what supplies we will need
Traditions – things we enjoy doing as a family or things we might want to experience this year for the first time.
The main goals of the lists at this point are to decide a rough budget and space out the shopping for the Holidays, make sure that we have things we need ready (no shopping for Advent Candles the day after Thanksgiving), and to just get a handle on things.
I am not printing out additional calendar pages, because my master planner has the calendar in it already. Most lists I make on the computer and then print out lists that I need for my dayrunner or my family planning notebook as needed.
I walked into Fred Meyer’s the other day and tucked away near the cards and the books was the first Christmas display, the American Greetings ornaments I believe. Normally I am rather perturbed by the consumer driven tendency to market Christmas earlier and earlier each year, but this year I looked at it and thought about how dizzying the Advent/Christmas season is. Every year I hope to be more organised and for the last few years I have note of “The Holiday Grand Plan” which starts holiday planning in the last week of August and finishes it in the main planning endeavors by the middle of December.
Normally I forget all about the “Grand Plan” until mid October. This year I actually remembered about it early enough to bump it back two weeks so I can use it for Advent and Christmas. I plan to bump the Grand Plan back to August 17 and “Tweak” it so that I can focus on Advent too.