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OMIT Post #3: The Role of the Kitchen Towel

Best title ever! If that doesn’t generate excitement, what does? In my Operation Make It Tidy (OMIT) quest, I will share ideas and articles that have given me insight into how to keep the kitchen neat and tidy as I go.

This was a good one from Epicurious: How to Turn the Lowly Kitchen Towel Into a Power Tool.

Some takeaways:

  • Get the right kitchen towels. They should be durable and have texture. Dish towels, used for drying dishes, can be cute and lovely. Kitchen towels are towels of substance. The article recommends these from Amazon.
  • Have three kitchen towels out during meal prep: one dry one, one wet one, and one for drying your own hands.
    • A dry towel  to swipe or swoosh dry goods off your cutting board or knife. It can also be used as a makeshift potholder.
    • A damp towel to wipe stickier items off of your cutting board or knife
    • One one more dry one for washing your hands – I’m kind of a hand washing freak so I added that one.

There are more details in the article, and it’s worth reading, but these are the takeaways for me in my OMIT quest.



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OMIT Post #2: In Praise of Marie Kondo

In my Operation Make It Tidy (OMIT) quest, I will share articles and ideas that have given me insight into how to keep the kitchen neat and tidy as I go. To do that, I have to discuss how I came to this point. To those who knew me up to 10 years ago, this would have been a laughable quest. But I have come so far, and the person I can think most for that is Marie Kondo. Here’s how I became a believer and a doer.

One of my great resources that inspires me as a school superintendent is my membership in Consortium 2031, a group of seven school districts all aspiring to be the best they can be. In our spring 2018 meeting in Edina, MN, I was learning at a session on 21st century classrooms. The presenter mentioned a book, The Third Teacher, which focuses on how classroom design can play a major part in helping students learn. The main premise: classrooms should not contain just a lot of really cool stuff and they should not be a ‘shrine’ to the teacher’s interest or passions. Everything in the classroom should be well placed to assist/motivate/inspire/instruct students. There should be nothing extraneous. The presenter mentioned that a major inspiration behind that was Marie Kondo’s famous book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Famous? I had never heard of it! I bought it and read it that night. (Thank you Amazon Kindle! I have paid you dearly, but I do love reading books when I want to read them).

Some of my takeaways and quotes:

  • “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house is put in order.”
  • Discard things when they cease being functional. (Sounds so obvious – but we keep things because we used to love them)
  • “We should be choosing what we want to keep.” The rest is what you need to get rid of.
  • “Take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.
  • Learning how to fold clothes. Check out Marie’s video on folding clothes. You’ll see – she LOVES this stuff. She talks to her clothes, and to all the things she loves. I use this same technique for dish towels.
  • “Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it is unclear where things belong. Yeah . . . I’ll add a third . . . too lazy or uninterested to keep things decluttered, and, in too much of a hurry to get to the next task.

Our bedrooms, our kitchen, our outdoor kitchen, and our living room are now decluttered and Kondo-fied. Our converted garage/playroom is next. I can see every t-shirt in my t-shirt drawer, and I love all of them. My suits and shirts hanging in my closet now have room to breathe, and there’s nothing I don’t wear often. All of my items with holes in them are gone. (That was hard)

And in our kitchen, everything now has a place. There are no clutter drawers. I can see every spatula/peeler/spoon/pan without having to move something that is on top of it. I found complete sets of measuring spoons and cups, and I gave away many measuring spoon and cup orphans. I bought just a few organizers – like these drawer separators from Amazon, which I love. It’s beautiful!

Jill is completely on board. It started off as her watching me de-clutter my closet, wondering who had taken over her husband’s body. And now, she’s completely on board. We are on a first name basis with the good people at the Goodwill stores. I have given the book to members of my family – I don’t know if I have any converts yet. Bur it remains the key to my OMIT quest, and I am grateful to Marie Kondo for setting me on this path.

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A Quest: Operation Make it Tidy (OMIT)

I think you all know I love to cook. I have many strengths that help me manage cooking and preparing, whether it be for one or one hundred of our closest friends. I can get everything out on time, at close to the same time, and be proud of everything that I’m serving.

In terms of presentation, I’m a B or B- at best. And I don’t think I have that much more in me than that grade. As an educator, my “growth mindset” part of me scolds this settling, and reminds me that that the only thing stopping me is my lack of desire to get better. Maybe.

But in terms of what needs to be done for clean up, in terms of being a “clean as you go” cook well . . . I ama C-/D+. And I’m not satisfied. Now let’s be clear – that’s a big improvement from where I used to be! I was an impossible F before. Grown men and babies would cry at the mess I left behind. And now, it’s more of a, “Whoa.”

But I can do this. Really. I can do this. I am calling this question . . . “Operation Make It Tidy” or OMIT. Why Tidy? Marie Kondo of course. She’s one of my new heroes and mentors with her life changing, The Magical Art of Tidying Up book. Her basic premise: We have WAY too much stuff. Throw out all the stuff that you do not love. And then, with the much reduced supply of stuff, take care of it, and have a special place for it. No stacking! You should be able to see everything you have. Jill and I have given away so many articles of clothing, books, items, kitchen utensils, trays, and gadgets, and more. We feel so much more in control.

So now, I have to figure out practices and processes to keep our kitchen tidy while I’m cooking. Notice I’m using the word “tidy” and not clean. Cleaning I can do at the end.

David Tarmarkin wrote a very funny and all too honest article that eschews the clean as you go process. Reading that gives me a soft landing place if I’m not successful. But . . . I think I’ll have a happier household if I can make this part of who I am. I’m going for it.

So I’m going to start a series of posts to share articles and ideas that are going to help me in my OMIT quest.