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                                        "Keeping A Kitchen"

Our kitchens are our "serving centers" at home. Whether we have a "kitchen for one" or for many there is a lot of activity in a kitchen. The appliances -however few or many are present - run, store, freeze, cool, wash, mix, brew, and along the line it goes. The water runs, washes, rinses and cleans. The towels wipe up, wipe down, dry, and polish and the floor holds up to walking, standing, cooking, pets and much more.  It is important to keep our special kitchens clean, orderly, and set up so that they are "function-able"/usable. Getting   them so and maintaining them can be trying and not always fun but we need to look at the work as pleasant regardless of whether it is  actually pleasant or horribly dreaded:).  I love to read anything involving a kitchen. I love reading fiction sharing  great descriptive words  of things in the kitchen, how to manuals on everything related to this well used room, and just about anything else. Reading has sprinkled useful and lovely tips along my way to help "keep my kitchen".

To "keep our kitchens" we can use the grand advice of working left to right and top to bottom. I cannot tell you the times I have benefited from doing  things this way. When I have cooked a lot, cleaned as I went, and still have a huge mess that I'm almost always too tired to clean... I will put this rule into action. I start with my sink area and look all the way to as far left as I can see.  That is my refrigerator so I will put anything back in it that goes, make sure items are not just shoved on the shelves there, and wipe up any sticky or  soiled spots.  I start at the top and work my way down.  Next is my counter and dishwasher so I move from left to right cleaning that  counter space, working from top to bottom. This means my counter is cleaned and cleared by the time I move "down" to the dishwasher  and empty/refill it.  The next thing on my list is my sink so I tackle that. I will do this  keeping in mind that I need to train my hands to move from all the way to the left to as far right as that area has to work with. I try to keep in mind to start at the top point and work my way down. Things seem to get done much faster and without the scurrying around with no purpose way I managed it before learning this years ago. 

Sometimes our kitchens become such a part of our daily routine that staying clean seems to go with the flow of our days. Other times they mess up and take more than just a swipe or swish to get them back into shape!  This was the case with me. Yesterday morning I had a "coffee" here with my  sister and some of her church members (her husband is a Pastor). One of the ladies really wanted to try  some home made cinnabons I had made recently so we pulled out the flour, yeast, butter and other baking ingredients and made 3 huge batches of them! We worked together cleaning the kitchen and got everything back in shape by the time everyone left.

This morning was a different story! I had one entire pan just for my family's breakfast this morning and it showed when I returned from my morning "travels"! The sink was full of sticky dishes, the pan was empty and abandoned on the stove top with twisted saran wrap attacking the gas grates of the stove, and the floor had sticky spots - thanks to the cream cheese icing frosted in mountain peaks atop the rolls! I wanted to go hop into bed and sleep until time to pick up my daughter:) but followed my usual morning routine and found myself back in the kitchen. I should have dove in right then and there to clean it all back up but I knew I had a precious two hours of silence and self time to do anything I want. I opted to gather any stray dishes, start to unload the full dishwasher, and pick up a few things as the coffee perked. What I'm doing now is going back in there after I have spent a few minutes on here and doing one or two things at a time. So far I have managed emptying and reloading the dishwasher in the past few minutes and I will finish it up either 15 minutes before I leave or in between there somewhere.

Is this ideal? No. Ideal would be to buck down and get the whole thing done at once and be done with it. This is the way I almost always do it just so I don't have it bothering me while doing something else. Today, however, I LONGED for some free computer/reading/writing time before picking up the kids because it is literally non stop from the time they start home work, through dinner, and night time routines for all of us. I worked after my walk today for 2 hours doing ceiling fans, a sink and a lot of windows at a shop we might be opening. I WANTED a few minutes of "down" time desperately! I chose to be creative with my time. I had my bed made, bathroom cleaned up after my shower, I'm dressed, and the rest of the house is not far from being done. Because everything else was caught up or on the way to being so I opted to take more time to do the kitchen because I can finish it quite easily as Lauren does her home work. My point in sharing this is that there are times when things get messed up. There are times when we do not want to mess with them and we end up doing one or two things... we either force ourselves through doing it right then even if there was something else we truly wanted and needed to do or we don't do it at all and the mess gets worse. The problems here are that we have to do the kitchen, room, or whatever anyway. If we do something and still leave time for another activity... it is likely we'll finish up the chore when we're done with the other. If we do nothing... eventually we will HAVE to do something and then it will be even harder to face.

What does all that typing boil down to? Just that we can work a job or two at a time or 15 minutes at a time when we cannot bear at that moment to tackle something head on. It will get done this way.  Okay... enough on that! To "keep our kitchens" we must make sure they are "user friendly". There are lists and lists of books that give practical ideas for ways to do this so I won't go into that aspect of it. Just keep in mind "simple to use" as you are working in your kitchen so your mind is always checking things out to make sure you can reach the things you use often and don't have to move 100 little things you rarely use to get TO the "busier" items. We must clean some every day, de-clutter every week or so, and work on order often. The more we are in our kitchens the more we will learn how to keep them smoothly operating under our able and knowing hands!  Hospitality in our kitchens is a must for us as Christian women. We "must" start with our families and let it pour on out to overflow on to any guests - whether they be strangers or invited friends and family.  Our tables don't have to be the most expensive shining wood with seasonal arrangements and exquisite table settings to show someone a hospitable heart and home. A clean table will do and if you have a bowl of fresh fruit or a scented candle for a centerpiece... a pretty bonus it is but not even that is necessary. Just having a clean place to sit and a swept kitchen floor, a cup or glass to sip a beverage from, a plate or saucer to eat a bite of just about anything, will serve you and the one/s you are serving quite well.  The only other thing you need is to make sure you live in the moment. Don't allow your mind to go through the check lists of everything you still need to get done, what you'll fix for tomorrow's dinner or what phone calls you need to return.   Enjoy the company present with you and make it a memory just by "being there."  As you know there are many other things important in "keeping one's kitchen" but I pray the words above might serve to inspire you on and get you started. Sometimes we need to "get started" even if we have had our own kitchen for years... who doesn't need some renewal and revival every now and then? Happy Homemaking!

Love, Sandy

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