Remember when we first moved into this house, and all I showed you of the kitchen was the window? There was a very good reason for that. You see, we moved from a house with a much larger kitchen, to this tiny little postage stamp-sized one:
When we arrived here, you could barely see the kitchen for all the boxes of stuff everywhere. This kitchen is old, small, with little cupboard or bench space. I’ve worked out, from sheer stubborness, that you have to do things a lot differently in a kitchen like this with a family of five.
Until I made some big changes, I wasn’t able to keep this kitchen clean or cook easily.
I started by getting rid of a lot of our plates.
These aren’t all our plates. But I had to get our plate storage and usage down to the barest minimum. That means five of each plate type and no more: dinner plates, bread and butter plates and bowls. This lets us actually fit our plates into the cupboard and doesn’t let them pile up when they’re dirty on the non-existent bench space. I’ve done the same with cutlery, and will be attacking my other cupboard full of cookware soon. In doing this, I’m hoping we’ll be able to store more food in the kitchen, as opposed to other parts of the house.
I also want to eventually change my plates over to vintage ones. Vintage plates are much, much smaller. If you look below, you can see that my modern dinner plate on the left is almost the same size as my vintage Corelle platter! No wonder our nation is becoming obese. Now, although I need to eat more, not less, I think this’ll give healthier portion sizes overall for the family. Not just that, but more cupboard space.
I’ve learned that you cannot function in a kitchen this size without a good compost system. I’ve also learned that the less stuff I have in a tiny kitchen means I’m not cleaning for nearly as long. Dishes only take ten minutes tops to wash, and the kitchen itself, the same amount. I’ve never enjoyed cleaning, and I don’t want to look back on my life to see that I’ve spent lots of that time cleaning. It spurs me on to simplify further.
I know this isn’t a fancy, McMansion style kitchen. I don’t like the style of it, nor the lack of cupboard space. But, it’s a small sacrifice to make for home ownership. I would never want to buy the most expensive, fancy house when I have a young family. I don’t think it’s worth the financial and time strains on everyone. I think as a society, so many of us expect new, new, new when it comes to buying a house these days. Generations before us would buy something modest and take years, decades in some cases, to do it up to their liking.
We have all the time in the world to make home improvements, and I think a lot of people forget that. Generations before us didn’t have as many problems as this generation, just paying off their house and owning it. There are so many families buying outrageously priced houses in Australia, that they cannot afford, even if both parents are working. With loads of mod cons they just don’t need.
Of course, if that is the choice others make, then I will respect that. I’d just like to point out to anyone who believes the myth that this is the only option, you’re wrong. Clearing out our kitchen has made me realise just how little we need to be comfortable. And as ugly as our kitchen is, it’s made me happier to release the burden of the ‘stuff’. A burden has been released from me.
I look at our little country kitchen, and it drives home how old it is. It’s not 100 years old like our last place (which had a more modern kitchen). But it’s still really old. It makes me wonder why kitchens were so much smaller in those days. Was it because families grew their own veges, rather than store it all inside? Was it because families made everything from scratch? Probably.
The truly wonderful thing about this kitchen though, is that when the day comes when we can afford to modernise it, I’ll have less stuff, and be able to make more room for food storage and bench space. For such a tiny space, it won’t cost nearly as much as a McMansion kitchen. Brilliant.
On the topic of a more simple life, I’m going to give a little update on how my partner is going after his accident. Initially, we thought he only had a dislocated thumb. The x-rays came back clear for the bones in his chest. You can see the bruising that came up the next day from the seat belt:
Now, at the hospital, we unfortunately got Dr Incompetant dealing with my partner. Which means, that with the bruising my partner had from his seatbelt, he should’ve been treated as though he had a clinical fracture to the ribs, which can’t be detected via x-ray. He didn’t. My man developed this lump over his ribs, and it started hurting when he breathed.
He went to our new, good doctor, and it turns out that the lump is a haematoma, which often happens with a clinical rib fracture. New doc was unimpressed that my partner had been sent home with such an inadequate amount of pain killers, and no instructions not to lift things. If he lifts anything too heavy, the fracture won’t heal well. It’s just lucky he had the dislocated thumb which prevented him from lifting much at all in the early days.
My partner’s accident is, unfortunately, known around town. Kind of like ‘the boy who lived’, he’s the guy who should be dead! The one who, if he’d hit the tree on his side with the impact that the passenger side took, he wouldn’t be here. Since then, sadly, someone else in town has died in a car accident. It makes us realise we are extremely lucky people.
Our lesson this year, I think, is to learn to live life much more simply, and to allow ourselves to enjoy it. Everyone deserves that.
We also got our car replaced very quickly, thankfully. We decided on a sedan this time, instead of another petrol-guzzling SUV, and are already loving the savings! I look back at so many of our choices over the years, and while yes, we got the house purchases right, we’ve made so many other spending choices that could’ve been better. We’re good at bargain shopping, which is great. But we can do so much more, by downsizing our perceived needs. By not just buying something bigger at times we’ve thought, ‘well, we can’.
I’m going to be simplifying our entire house this way, it’s going to be a big job! But how can I say no, when it frees up so much cash flow for us, and makes day to day life easier?