Category Archives: Simple Savvy

So long and thanks for all the fish

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My dear friends, thank you for reading Simple Savvy; I’ve loved writing this blog for the past three and a half years.

I’ve decided to stop blogging and simplify, simplify while Mr. Savvy and I continue on the path to building a farm of our own. Part of it is the time factor: I drive a two hour commute. Coupled with the blogging schedule, this means that I am churning out posts in what amounts to all of my free time.

I don’t mind the writing. I mean, I love the writing. It has sustained me for a long time. Now I’m ready to do more, and elsewhere — focus on different subjects, write in depth pieces, and pursue other avenues of getting published. Blogging has been a lovely learning experience.  I want to roll up my sleeves and really get to work.

If you go through the archives, you’ll notice that I’ve taken down many old posts; the ones that remain are some of my favorites. I’ve also closed comments so that I can spend more time living in each moment, snuggling my sweet Lily. But I’ll be around on Twitter, and you can also reach me at savvychristine (at) gmail.com.

Many thanks to each and every one of you for making this blog a fun endeavor! With crafty, decluttering thoughts,

SavvyChristine

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Spring Cleaning Tip: Start with Old Pots and Pans

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My Favorite Pot

The evils of nonstick cookware are still up for debate, but mine are in pretty good shape; the rusty cast iron pan waits for a good sanding and seasoning.  There are pots in the cupboard I haven’t used in years.  My four standby pieces are within easy reach, pushing the seldom-used wok and roasting pan up and to the back.  Why I delayed cleaning out the tall cupboard until this weekend, I don’t know, but it was a beautiful weekend to stay inside and get something accomplished.

Pots all over the counter.  Everywhere!

I ended up with five stockpots, three small saucepans, two big skillets, two small skillets, one fry pan, one cast iron pan, and one wok.  Too many for a small kitchen; it was time to take the plunge.

Step 1: Sort into piles.

My piles ended up as my four most-used pots and pans, a pile of a few “occasional” pans, and the junk pile.  How do you know if you need to put a pot into the junk pile?  If it has scratches like this:

Scratched Teflon.  That was in my food.Yes, I’ve been eating nonstick coating.  I know that the links between ingesting Teflon and getting sick are tenuous, but the sources I’ve seen (like this Guide to Using Nonstick Pans) recommend tossing out the pots and pans that are losing their coating.  Flaky Teflon is a good sign that your pots and pans are damaged by heat and the utensils you used, so even if you kept them, they wouldn’t be as effective.  And I would hate to find out several years down the road that it’s not a big jump from eating Teflon to getting Alzheimer’s.  I play it safe and junk the junky pots.

Pots also go into the junk pile if you don’t use them.  I find myself upgrading to a nicer pot occasionally, without getting rid of the old one.  Then it sits in the cupboard for months (or years).  Take the time now to sort out what you don’t use, even if it’s an heirloom piece or something really nice.  You can figure out what to do with it later.

Step 2: Rearrange your storage.

Now that you have a nice empty cupboard, put everything back in a way that makes sense.  Stick the seldom-used pieces behind the other pots and pans, or in another room altogether.  Keep the clumsy, heavy items like cast iron unobstructed for easy removal.  Step back.  Admire your work.

Step 3: Reuse, recycle, or trash.

I had some nice pots.  They had no lids, so instead of donating them to my brother’s first kitchen or the local domestic violence shelter, I repurposed them to grow catnip and basil.

Catnip in a pot.  My other plants don't grow this well.

If I’d had beat up stainless steel or aluminum pots in the junk pile, I would’ve called my local transfer station to see if they accepted scrap metal.  Earth911 gives a pretty good idea of what can be recycled in your area.   (As far as I know, no one will take nonstick-coated pots and pans for recycling, but you could always try to resurface your old stuff.)

If you have your great-grandmother’s cast iron skillet that you don’t use, consider displaying it.  Hang it on the wall (with reinforced nails and the like), or use it as a catch-all container by the front door.

Anything in between beautiful and junky get donated.  Whether it goes to the neighbor’s children’s play kitchen set, or the Goodwill down the road, get it out of the kitchen (and preferably out of the house).  You’ll feel a whole lot better if it’s out of your hands.

Step 4: Cook with gusto.

Every time you go for a pot or pan, remind yourself that it only took fifteen minutes to sort your stuff and clear it out.  Smile.  Add some more spice to whatever you’re making.  Cook happy.

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©2009 at Simple Savvy, the simple living blog where I firmly believe that your food will come out better if you’re happy when you cook it.  Happy and unrushed.  And I’m not the only one.

On Organizing: When it All Comes Together

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I carry a pocket notebook for when inspiration strikes and to jot down to-do lists and ephemera.  It tends to languish in my purse, not for lack of anything to write about, but because I don’t have a pen.  Don’t get me wrong: I have several coffee mugs full of pens — just none that feel good while writing in my Moleskine.

Writing is an aesthetic experience.  There’s something intoxicating about the smell of just-written words.  When I write with the proper pen, it’s like having a solo moment in an orchestral piece: everything comes together for a brief, shining moment.  It feels good.

So why don’t I pull out my little notebook as often as I could?  Because it’s not fun to write with the wrong pen, one that requires too much pressure, or goes dry without warning.  Using my notepad is something that I should do, but don’t because it’s not pleasurable.

How many of you do the same with something that’s good for you?  You know you’d be better off, but don’t — like flossing.  That’s a good habit to have.  Or putting the mail away the minute you walk in the door.  There’s not a designated spot for it, or it’s out of the way, or you’re too tired to walk the extra ten steps, or the corner of the table is clean for once so you can toss it there and forget about it.  There are a million reasons not to put the mail away.  And yet, when you put the mail in its spot, the house is cleaner.  When the house is clean, you feel calm.  When you feel calm, you’re more productive, and you can get more done.  See?  Orchestral solo — so why aren’t you putting the mail away?

I don’t use my notebook (or floss, or put the mail in its spot) because it’s not entirely pleasant.  But I like that solo feeling, and the peace that follows.  That’s why even though it seems wasteful — and a little silly — to spend time seeking a new pen when I have a hundred here at home, I’m going to do it anyway.

What “silly” thing have you done to help yourself stay organized?

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©2009 at Simple Savvy, the simple living blog where I have a tendency to decorate my storage bins so they’ll be more attractive.  Image courtesy of Rachel Barton Pine.