I’ve spent a lot of time in my kitchen during the past two weekends. We hosted two Saturday night dinners with parties right afterwards. Both were loads of fun and well worth the culinary efforts. Once upon a time, I loved hosting parties, gatherings and dinners. Then, I went through a period of time (let’s just call it what it was: menopause), in which I lacked the energy and enthusiasm to entertain. But, I actually enjoyed the dinners and parties prep cooking more than I have in the recent past. That was a nice revelation for me.

I also received some insight from becoming so intimate with my kitchen. Since I opened all of my cabinets and drawers at least thirty to forty times, I viewed almost everything my kitchen housed. By the second weekend, I found myself wishing I didn’t own so much. I also found myself wishing I had remembered how painful it was to wear my slippers the first Saturday, and had instead reached for my sneakers on the second one. But, I didn’t. Darn it!

Anyway, I noticed there were items I grabbed over and over, or, in the alternative, not at all. I noticed the containers, gadgets, appliances and serving utensils I continually bypassed while searching for the ones I needed.

So, based on my discoveries, I compiled a list of things cluttering my cabinets, items I just don’t use. While I was confident that I could part with particular items, I wasn’t sure about others (but that’s for another blog post) So, here’s the list of items I was able to part with:

  • Measuring cups and spoons. Two sets? Two sets. I really only need one set of measuring spoons for fluids and one for dry goods for when I’m baking or making sauces. As for measuring cups? One set of dry volume cups and maybe two differently sized Pyrex types for measuring fluids (I only say two so you don’t have to wash out the oil you’ve just measured before calculating the vinegar. This drives me crazy.).
  • Tablecloths. Oh Lord, here we go: If I piled up the tablecloths owned by my mom and aunt, the mountain would have been taller than two of me. I don’t entertain on a daily basis, so I only need one or two for fancier or more formal dinners and one or two for for casual dinners. And of course, I might want a holiday tablecloth. Christmas tablecloths are just plain festive and since we entertain at least twice during the holidays, I need two of these. I also like my pastel tablecloth I use on Easter. And the one for Thanksgiving. And the one we got in Lucca. Here’s a photo of the tablecloths I kept.

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  • Placemats. Although placemats may be adorable, they just take up too much room on the table. I can’t fit placemats, utensils, napkins, glasses and then all of the serving dishes needed for a meal on one table at the same time. Can you? Plus, I have to take them all off of the table and wash them after meals. And I still have to wipe off the table where gunk splattered in between the placemats. In the meantime, the placemats make my laundry pile larger, as if it’s not big enough already? So, I donated all of the placemats except two sets of my favorite patterns for when we have a fun, summer barbecue out on the deck.
  • Cloth Napkins. Having too many cloth napkins is also a disease from which most women suffer. Unless, of course, you’re going green and have rid your house of paper napkins, paper towels and – well, I don’t want to think about what you would use instead of toilet paper – cloth napkins to me are just more unwelcome additions to my laundry pile. So, I’ve decided to keep just enough cloth napkins for the amount of people who will fit around my dining room table. And one extra for the bread basket!
  • Ladles. Although I wish I had a big enough heart and pocketbook for it, I am not running a soup kitchen. So, why do I have three huge ladles? There’s my big, industrial sized one for gravy and balls. If you’re Italian, you know what I’m talking about. If not, then I’m talking about spaghetti sauce and meatballs. I also have a smaller sized ladle, which makes sense for smaller volume scooping. But, it has as long a handle as the industrial ladle so I can’t use it on the table for serving gravy (regular gravy like turkey or beef). I still might keep this ladle just in case I’m making a stew and a soup on the same bitterly cold day in January. On the other hand, I’m definitely giving the heave-ho to the large plastic one. There’s no good reason to have a non-stick ladle in my house when I don’t own a Teflon-like stock pot.
  • Spatulas and scrapers. I have two plastic spatulas and three metal ones. Why? How many pancakes am I going to flip at one time? Even if my husband is helping me, we’d still only use two. I mean, we’re not ambidextrous. So, do I need more than two metal and two plastic spatulas? No, I most certainly don’t. And scrapers? One larger size one for big matters and one small scraper for getting every last bit of honey mustard out of the jar. That’s it. YAY!
  • Specialty gadgets. Look. At. My. Gadget. Drawer.

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  • Waaaah! One of my friends told me I need dividers. Another said she can’t believe I can’t fit all of my gadgets into one drawer. Neither of them were of much help. If I buy dividers, then these items will end up filling two drawers. If I leave everything the way it is, I’ll continue to have trouble closing the drawer – which I do. Every single time. So, I’m losing the pizza cutter (my kitchen shears work better for this job), both cheese slicers, one of the two whisks, a melon baller, a Pampered Chef crinkle-cutting slicer I’ve used maybe three times in twenty years, and some other mysterious plastic peeler that I won at a Tupperware party over twenty years ago. I can’t remember what it’s for.

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  • Plastic drinking vessels and glasses.  Last, but not least are mugs, plastic cups and everyday glasses. I can’t tell you how many cabinets I see loaded with these items. Stacked on top of one another, placed sideways on top of the stacks. It’s a precarious balance we maintain as we shove more of those free cups into our cabinets. So, I finally purged that cabinet. It wasn’t easy. We had many sports-related plastic cups commemorating Sixers, Phillies and Flyers wins (we’re still waiting on the Eagles). But, I realized that our memories of those wins are in our hearts and conversations with friends and families. And our memories aren’t poisoned with BPA, a toxic chemical commonly found in older plastics. So, off they all went.

Those of you with young families, who utilize your kitchen all day everyday, probably thought this was a no-brainer. But, for those of us whose time in the kitchen is much less than it once was, it was difficult to make these kinds of decisions. Everything in our kitchens once had a purpose. Now it doesn’t.

So, I’ll still be purging more stuff. I’ll keep you updated as I go and might even ask for your help in making decisions. It’s so easy for me to help others clear out their excess possessions, but a bit difficult to examine my own… Which, I suppose, is why people call Lighten Up for help. Right?

If you have a kitchen that needs to be re-examined for space and purpose, let me know about it. I’d love to hear from you and will offer some suggestions that I hope will help.

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