Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finding room for your stuff: Part 4 - The Kitchen

I've seen it worse.

I considered long and hard about what is the hardest thing to adjust to when scaling our lives and space back as drastically as we have. It wasn't too hard of a decision, really, to narrow it down to two things.  It was a little bit harder to choose between the two finalists, but not much.  I determined the number one most difficult adjustments, as I wrote in an earlier blog, was laundry, because, really, after all this time, I haven't adjusted, and it seems it will take extra measures at some point to make it possible to live with.

The runner up, and actually not a real close second, is the kitchen.  The reason it didn't really come in first is because so much of what I do in the kitchen can be done in different ways, or can be done outdoors without constructing any additional structures or anything. It can be tricky, even difficult, but I'm not opposed to doing things just because they are tricky or difficult.  It is doable, so I'll do it.  I may make better arrangements one day, adapting and shuffling as I go, but life can go on and be enjoyable and pleasant with things the way they are.

The main problem with my kitchen is that there's very, very little counter top space.  With just my husband and myself this might be less of an issue, but with four of us, all the cooking, and cleaning of the dirty dishes and whatnot, it's a constant job to find space to do everyday things.  For example, I needed to cut up some potatoes, and I couldn't find a flat place to big enough lay the cutting board, so I let it slightly overlap the sink's edge.  Naturally it rocked back and forth.  No huge deal, but then I needed to roll dough.  Again, no sweat.  I'll just do it on the kitchen table after I move all the stuff off.  None of this sounds like a lot of trouble until you remember it's a dance I do at every meal, every day, all the time.

If I need to bake, I have to take all of my iron ware out of the oven first, because it's the storage place for my skillets and my waffle iron and one of my smaller dutch ovens.  I can stack them in the floor near the pantry and continue on about my baking business.  If I have an extra dish to prepare for a meal I'll have to cook part of it outside.  I love cooking outside,  really, but the accommodations here are such that I have to set up and take down all of my equipment every time I use it, so it's pretty inconvenient.  Like I said, inconvenience isn't a deal breaker, I'm just pointing out the issues I face living in a tiny house.  Do with it what you will.

I can't stow my loaf of bread in the pantry because it would probably get smooshed, so I typically leave it on the counter top.  The butter stays near the stove top.   The dish drying rack is behind the sink, a couple of frequently used canisters sit in available space near the drain rack, and there's a spot on the side where I keep my bills and receipts and the like.  If I move the bread, butter, two of the small canisters and the ever present cups of coffee and glasses of water, I can muster about a square foot of open space.  For reference, that's enough for a small crock pot, not enough for a standard cutting board or decent electric skillet.

The refrigerator is a real issue.  It's an R.V. model that runs on LP gas or electricity.  It's not necessarily small for an RV, but it's small compared to what I was used to. There's no space for anything extra. What I mean by extra is, let's say I get a smokin' deal on milk at the grocery store.  I  can't buy an extra because two won't fit in there unless I get rid of something else first.  I keep almond milk and  juice in there, but NOT if I plan to keep kombucha or iced tea.

Also, at least for me and my refrigerator, I can't seem to find the happy medium on temperature.  Either things are thawing in the freezer or freezing in the refrigerator.  Most things in the fridge part I can shuffle around, because it doesn't matter to me if the butter or a package of meat is partially frozen.  It is more difficult to store any fresh produce like lettuce or spinach, though, because it seems like it freezes no matter where I put it unless I can stuff it into a place on the door.

Then there's the freezer.  Frozen juice is generally not frozen solid.  We don't eat much ice cream, but if I buy it, we have to eat it all quickly because it won't stay frozen long.  The whole freezer compartment, except for the door, ices up so I have to defrost it periodically.  That's not a bad job and it insured that I use up food that may have gotten stuffed back into the back and forgotten.

Forget about freezer space.  I don't want to talk about it.  ;)

Over time I have learned that if I don't have the space I just don't keep the stuff.  That's the truth for everything in our house.  We are adjusting to that.  When I go awhile without the stuff, I realize that, really, I don't need it anyway.  It's really very liberating physically and mentally.  There's just so much less maintenance and responsibility when you have less stuff.  It frees up my time for better things.  I could do with less than I have, but I've either decided I don't want to or else I haven't decided what I want to do with it if I don't keep it here.

Not here?  Yes, I have an off-site stash.  Some of you know that we are planning on settling into our own acreage soon, and when I do I'll no doubt make accommodations for some of our things when we get there.  I have a small cargo trailer that we are using kind of like a storage.  We have some of our things in it that we can't use here, certainly can't store here, and I'm not willing to part with, knowing that we will indeed be using them later.  For instance, we have a lot of tools. books, extra bedding, lawn and garden stuff, lots of things we collected and stowed with our new property in mind, but can not possible keep with us here.  I'm sure I'll be thinning those things out once I open it back up and go through it.  I packed all of that when  I first moved into our small house, and my idea of what needed to stay and what needed to go has changed a lot since than.

If I come across any other issues that are space related I'll add a part five, but I think that these last four posts sort of cover it, at least for me.  I'm sure different people with different priorities would take issue with the small closet space or lack of any wall space for pictures or even a calendar, but you will figure out your own issues.  I'm just hoping to give people who want to get away from the "rat race" by living smaller,  a little heads up on some of the areas I found to be the most challenging.

So there you have it!  I hope it didn't sound like I was complaining.  I certainly didn't mean for it to, because I love it!  It's just different and takes some time and an open mind to adjust and settle into a new normal.  In all honesty there are times when I miss a nightstand or a place to lay my glasses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog seems interesting but I the background is bothering my eyes. Would you be able to change it to something lighter? thanks.