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cull, baby, cull: kitchen edition
by Yee-Fan Sun
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continued from page 1
Like most aspects of keeping house, weeding sounds scary when you think about applying it to your whole house. Taking inventory of the entirety of your twenty-some years of accumulated stuff? Way too intimidating. Which is why we're going to make it a wee bit easier for all you packrats, and guide you through the process one little room at a time. First up on the agenda? My favorite room in the house: the kitchen.

conquering the kitchen chaos
Maybe this has happened to you. One fine morning, following your usual breakfast routine, you open a cabinet to grab a box of cereal -- and find yourself rudely awakened by an avalanche of hot cocoa mix and tea, granola and crackers and pudding mix that comes a-tumbling atop your sleepy head. Or you find that your foodstuffs have usurped your countertops, and you've been vanquished to the kitchen table to do your slicing and dicing. Whether you're needing more space for cooking up a storm or for storing your myriad pre-prepped eats, it's time to take control of your kitchen.

the de-clutterer's toolkit
Before you tackle the scary, scary task of wading through your every belonging, you'll want to get yourself organized. Assemble the following:

1 Storage box: for the stuff you use seasonally, or when the odd whim strikes; this stuff can go in the back of a cabinet, on a shelf in the closet, in a plastic storage container that you slide under your sofa… anywhere that's out-of-the-way, but not too challenging to get to
2 Deep storage box: for the stuff you're hanging on to for a very good reason, but don't need ready access to; this is the stuff you stash in the basement, the attic, the garage… those out-of-the-way storage places
3 Donate/sell box(es): for the stuff that you don't personally need but that someone else might
4 Trash bags: for the stuff that no one else could conceivably need either… have one for recyclables and one for pure trash
5 Big fat marker: to label your boxes

Start with the cabinets and drawers first, as you'll need to maximize that storage space in order to get the rest of the kitchen chaos under control. Working one by one, empty out the space and assess the contents. Examine each item, and make a firm decision about whether it'll be kept in the kitchen, put into regular or deep storage, sold/donated to a worthy cause, or hurled in the trash.

Figuring out what to trash is generally the easiest: if there's absolutely no reason in the world why any human being would use the object in question, it's time to toss it. Dump any food products that have expired, that haven't seen the light of day since your last weeding session, or that are supporting another form of life. Huck that box of nasty candies your great aunt gave you last Christmas, but that you have no intention of ever ingesting again. That collection of freebie plastic cups from the 7-11, the ones that are barely a step above disposable-grade plastic? Into the trash bag (or recycling, if possible) they go.

don't stop: more this way

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