Tag Archives: kitchen

Trash talk

You may have seen the Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., on Today or read about them in Sunset magazine though, if you’re like the Johnsons, you might not have any magazines in your house.

The Johnsons have come to be known as a zero-waste family. They generate no trash and very little recycling. You can read for yourself how this family’s desire to live simply and cleanly has decreased their contribution of refuse to our planet. Admirable, I’d say. And guilt-provoking.

I’m a little ashamed of our household’s size 16 carbon footprint. We are the antithesis of the Johnsons. I’m not sure exactly how two humans and two felines can generate enough weekly waste to fill the Johnsons’ bins for more than a year. See for yourself. Not counting the bags of yard waste that already await pick-up at the curb, we’ve filled a 20-gallon can and an even larger sized Hefty bag in less than a week. Plus this large recycling bin and a paper bag’s worth of newspapers joining the yard waste at the curb as we speak.

Granted, we did a little spring cleaning over the weekend. For example, in preparation for our kitchen project, I decided to thin out our spice collection. “They” say kitchen spices go bad after six months and that we should discard them after that time. “They” would probably also say that the bottles should be recycled and the spices themselves composted or trashed, but that presumes the spices aren’t permanently adhered to their receptacles after years of neglect.

As someone who keeps her spices in alphabetical order, I’d appear to have a good grip on this. Over the weekend, I went through all my spices, A to Z. I discarded four bottles of curry powder, while being hard pressed to remember when I’d ever used curry powder in my life. Maybe they were part of my husband’s trousseau. Cream of Tartar? I’m not sure I even know what that is.

I swear there was a bottle of whole cloves that came from the house I grew up in, which we vacated in 1976. Somehow I manage to go through several bottles of chili powder a year, and yet can barely twist off the gummed up lids of nearly a quarter of these fastidiously filed spices. I had samples of every Spice Islands and McCormick’s label design of the last 30 years. Never mind all the other relics I came across while cleaning out my kitchen for the first time in 20 years.

Perhaps the Today show would like to interview me.


Filed under Food, Hearth and Home, Movies, Television and Radio

Eighty-six the peppers

We’re about to undertake a modest kitchen re-do and, as part of a larger initiative to reduce the number of belongings in our household, we are having to make some difficult decisions.

When we moved into our 1912 Victorian almost 21 years ago, we started filling it up with “collectibles,” a word I use loosely. Once word got out that we were collecting certain items, our friends thoughtfully and generously added to these.

My husband brought into our marriage several really neat collections, including antique framed portraits, antique vegetable cans, antique snuff cans, antique cameras, varied forms of “cheesecake” (a.k.a. antique porn), old Coca-Cola memorabilia, old cigarette memorabilia and old glass pinball machine backs. Over the years, he amassed a matchbook collection and a collection of “miscellaneous,” most of which has been displayed in our Pussycat Lounge. We also have the cork from every bottle of wine we’ve opened since 1990.

After we got married, we began collecting coffee mugs and refrigerator magnets and any and all things chili pepper. We have a chili pepper napkin holder and spoon rest, strings of chili peppers hanging on the walls, chili wreaths and wall hangings, pepper platters and pepper pitchers, table linens and tiki lights, canisters and candles, salt and pepper shakers and switch plates, mugs and magnets. It’s been fun, but it’s time for a thinning of the crop.

You know how it is. I have a friend who started collecting elephants in 1978 and, thanks to the generosity of friends, likely has more than a thousand. With my son, it’s tree frogs; my sister-in-law, it’s apples. The hard part is knowing when–and how–to get the word out politely that we’re full.

I’d like to assure our loved ones that we’re keeping a few chili treasures that we just can’t part with. The other 75 percent are being packed away to pass on to someone who will give them a loving home. Applications are now being accepted.

My husband has slowly and methodically been finding adoptive homes for a select few of his treasured collections. Don’t panic; much will remain with us, and our only child will decide the final cuts once we’ve moved on to the big flea market in the sky.

For now, our kitchen will get a mini facelift and a fresh theme. Shhh, it’s a secret; even we don’t know what it is.


Filed under Family and Friends, Hearth and Home