New Year; Old Habits (the good ones)

On my table right now are three notebooks opened wide, a stack of cookbooks, a laptop, two magazines, and a clipboard filled with lists and notes.

Once glance in my direction and you would have no problem believing that I am drawing up my 2019 plans. hopes. dreams. The start of a new year has inspired me immensely; it’s the way I am wired. Also, I’ve recently launched an exciting new life chapter and turning the calendar to 2019 has only fuelled my inertia.

Today’s post is to encourage you to keep up those helpful kitchen habits we covered last fall –  menu planning, meal prep and batch cooking – plus a few more super practical reminders. If I need the nudge, you just might too, so let’s revisit!

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8 ways to maximize refrigerator storage capacity when entertaining

Do you find yourself playing Tetris with your refrigerator on summer holidays or the average action-packed weekend? Trying in vain to squeeze one more platter of shrimp and tomato kebabs in between a watermelon and the ice tea jug?

Often the contents of a refrigerator are manageable on a day-to-day basis: however, as soon as you turn hostess, it fills to capacity—and over! Overnight, shelf space becomes precious real estate, and items risk getting crushed, or worse yet, spilled, from the influx.

Welcome to a common entertaining dilemma.

My very first apartment was a small loft with a postage stamp kitchen and a only mini-bar for a fridge, but I found ways to make it work—even with my love of fresh produce. Now, even though I have a regular-sized refrigerator, I still take similar measures to keep things organized when I’m entertaining.

Here are some creative strategies I developed to keep things cold and maximize the storage capacity of my fridge before a long weekend of entertaining.

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Recycled herb planters and an upcycled wooden ladder garden display

My father has always been an avid ‘dumpster diver’. Not quite literally, but as far back as I can remember, he’s always eyed other people’s end-of-driveway trash and scouted for reusable items. Call it resourceful, frugal or ‘green’, he’s made some surprisingly good finds in his time.

Naturally, he passed on a similar love of upcycling to my sisters and I, as this post is proof. On a recent morning I swerved and stopped the car in front of two garbage cans, hopped out,  and opened my hatchback. A distressed, paint-splotched wooden step ladder was tiredly leaning up against one of the bins, awaiting crunch time in the garbage truck.

Thinking of the obvious potential of this find, I quickly loaded the ladder into the car, and sped away. On the way home, I recalled a few projects I had seen on Pinterest. There was this bookshelf, which isn’t one bit safe for my house with small children, and this garden planter, minus the moldy boots. (It’s just my opinion, but workboots are one thing of which world needs less upcycling…)

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Spring cleaning the kitchen (homemade lemon-scented cleaner)

spring cleaning with natural ingredients on

If anyone thinks that my kitchen is always spotless, with perfectly polished stemware, gleaming counters, and an neat silverware drawer, think again. Like you, I also battle paper clutter, have charcoal buildup on the bottom of my oven, and that silverware drawer? Full of crumbs.

Oh, and there’s a daily collision of dishes in the sink.

sink and sunshine

Honestly, it was the fresh tulips and the sunshine that saved me that day. I’m holding out for Spring, but she is toying with us up here.

I had hoped to tackle a few problem areas in the kitchen last week over spring break, but who was I kidding? Instead we had unseasonably warm weather and I kept busy with three kiddos. We went tobogganing, lunched with friends, and hiked through the forest looking for signs of spring.

We also cooked together, a lot, and we planned for and partied through, Clara’s first birthday. Cleaning, as per usual, got bumped to the back burner.

Do you carry out a deep clean in your kitchen each spring? I rather feel as though I should, but I can never settle on that ‘free’ day to follow through. To be fair, I keep my pantry and (most) cupboards in tip-top shape, thanks to containerization and storing food in jars, so they are not the problem. I also stay on top of refrigerator organization, although the front door and handle are on the sticky side. Again.

My obvious trouble zones are the stove/oven, cupboard fronts and counter-top sprawl, windows, and those pesky Tupperware drawers – I have two, so twice the mess.

These areas cannot afford to be ignored, so I’ve decided to tackle them one at a time, here and there over the next month. I can surely fit 20 minutes of cleaning into my day, into my week, and I challenge you to do the same.

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Tips for how to travel to Mexico with kids

Traveling with kids in Mexico

Nearly 15 years ago, my older brother Josh and I embarked on a 3-month backpacking trip through South East Asia and Mediterranean Europe; we had plenty of adventures over those weeks. This month, traveling together for the first time since those Birkenstock-wearing, hitch-hiking days, we reunited in a developing country – but on this trip, we had our spouses and children along for the experience.

I have plenty of travel experience under my belt, which is why I noticed early on that this trip felt different. For the first time, I was seeing a foreign country through the eyes of my children, and in a sense, anew.

Our little ones are at a perfect age for traveling. Noah is our avid reader, happy to spend an entire flight with his nose in a chapter book. Mateo is our happy-go-lucky free-spirit, happy to skip along holding my hand. And little Clara is still content in a Snugli and completely portable, as she sleeps anywhere cradled in-arms.

Traveling in Mexico with Kids

Although we’re not quite ready to embark on a round-the-world adventure, we do hope to keep traveling with our three because we feel it is an important investment into their future. For one thing, it opens their young minds to sights, sounds, smells and experiences that can never be learned through schooling or a slew of Planet Earth DVD’s.

We Wimbushes aren’t really the type to book an all-inclusive vacation at a resort (although I understand the appeal) as we like to closely experience the culture of a foreign country and introduce it to our children. During this trip we bartered for handmade wares at the bustling city market, selected our daily avocados and bananas alongside the locals at the produce stand, and stood in line for goat tacos and cinnamon-sugar coated churros from the street carts.

Traveling with kids in Mexico

Our reunion in Mexico, together also with my two sisters and their families, was so utterly fantastic, that I couldn’t not share a mere snapshot of our time with you. I kept my big camera handy and jotted a few notes down here and there from my favorite experiences, like yesterday’s story of finding magic in a small tortilla factory.

Although I was on a nearly-full digital vacation, I found I missed writing, and every so often, a nugget of useful information would nestle itself in a mental file folder labeled “Mexico”.

Hopefully, there’s enough of those nuggets assembled here and in the posts to come to give you some takeaway and encourage you to travel with your kids.

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