By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
“In the childhood memories of every good cook, there's a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom.”
-- Barbara Costikyan
-- Barbara Costikyan
Here I sit in bed feeling better and hoping that I'm on the road to recovery. I'm eager to get back into the fall swing of writing two assigned articles, scheduled to be on national radio to dish out Earth changes, swimming at the indoor resort pool (with a waterfall and hot tub), and spreading the news about my new forthcoming book The Healing Powers of Chocolate. What's more, it's confirmed. I've morphed into a "Food Network" junkie and if something isn't brewing in the kitchen it feels empty.
So, here I am fantasizing about baking my own chocolate birthday cake for October 6. And the kitchen is oh-so much cleaner thanks to the mega cleanup and feng shui moves I've been making. (Simply put, feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement. Its goal is to bring you harmony. By putting stuff in the right spots in your kitchen it may enhance the flow of positive energy and zap negative vibrations. The end result: good health, happiness, and fortune.) Read on--you, too, can enjoy a well-balanced kitchen that feels good from head to toe like I recall enjoying as a little girl...
1. Use Eco-friendly Vinegar and Olive Oil Cleaners. For starters, turn on Harvest Moon by Neil Young, have a cup of hot cocoa or piece of quality chocolate (70% cacao) and it will boost your energy and mood...Then, it's time to clean your kitchen from top to bottom with natural stuff. You'll be doing you, yours, and Mother Nature a favor. Using nontoxic vinegar can help you to: lose the ants; clean stainless steel, get rid of dust, and keep fresh flowers longer. By keeping it green it will provide you with better health and energy. Tons of good for you cleaning tips for indoors-outdoors can be found in my books The Healing Powers of Vinegar and The Healing Powers of Olive Oil--both are available in tradecover and mass market editions on all online bookstores.
2. Declutter Your Stuff. Ditto. Getting rid of things you don't use will up your energy. It's true. You feel lighter with less kitchen baggage, starting fresh is exhilerating. I cleaned out both the fridge and freezer. Add a fresh box of baking soda to soak up odors. Then, I tackled the pantry and tossed out olive oil, pasta, rice, soup, gourmet spices (yep, I sadly discovered they don't last forever) and anything else that expired...What's the saying: Out with the old and in with the new.
3. Clean the Stovetop and Oven. This was a chore but it feels right to have the stovetop shine. (My Stepford Wife colors are starting to show.) The inside of the oven is sparkling, too. Writing Gourmet Tip: If you must use toxic oven cleaner, go over it with the natural stuff. Trust me, this is a feel-good must-do before warming up to those cooler days 'n' nights of unforgettable autumn baking and cooking (breads, muffins, casseroles, etc.).
4. Brighten Up with Lighting. During the colder days without sun you'll want to have sunny-type lighting which can up your energy and mood--linked to good health. Go for full spectrum light bulbs. No fall blues or other pesky problems. Speaking of lightening up...
5. Boost Your Mood with Plants. To help wipe out pollutants in your kitchen, fill your space with hardy, happy plants. Your best bet during the fall: philodendrons. They do well in the Sierras unlike Boston Ferns (which I love).
6. Bring on the Water. Fish aquariums provide positive energy in the dining room, especially with a gentle filter Ever notice Asian restaurants and the calming ambiance of fish?
7. Fish, Fish, Fish. Today, I read that goldfish can bring you good luck and prosperity. In fact, nine is the lucky number. The colors? Gold and one black one. (Go smaller rather than bigger in size = less cleaning.) My kitchen/dining room/study all are connected. So, the fish aquarium is a pleasant, calming treat for all three rooms. Note to self: Add more fishies.
8. Bring Out the Fresh Fruit. I've got several plump healthful seasonal fruits on display and ready to eat, such as pears placed in a stainless steel collander. According to feng shui concensus, a full bowl may lead to a full life. Translation: Display pretty bowls with plenty of pretty fruit. Empty bowls with just a few pieces of not so nice fruit not so good. And oranges? Nine is the lucky number I've read...Put 'em in a wooden bowl and on the kitchen or dining room table. (Note: If they're pricey, purchase the ones in a bag. Save the separate, sweet and juicy ones for eating.)
9. Conceal Knives and Scissors. My father gave me a black and white marble knife block, cutting board, and rolling pin. I love it. But the knives are out of sight. Bad vibes, say feng shui folks. (My black cat Kerouac likes to chew the black tops. Yes, black cats can and do bring good luck.)
10. Hanging Pots and Pans. Today, my cooking stuff is hanging on the wall in an arrangement. But I'm thinking about getting one of those artsy-looking overhead pots and pans hangers. If so, I will not, nor should you hang it over your workspace. Not good energy, or so they feng shui wizards claim.
11. Hide the Gadgets. Too many kitchen items can clutter up all that positive decluttering you did. So, choose your favorites and recycle as you use 'em. Or, you can always get a Kitchen Island. I'm thinking a rustic, wooden Mediterranean type. It would be modest, wooden, but eye-catching, and a great place to stack some kitchen gadgets, and a workspace.
12. Hang Wind Chimes with Crystals. I brought one of mine in from the deck--and put it above the kitchen windows. The one I chose is of a sun with a face. It makes me smile everytime I look at Mr. Sunshine. Feng shui gurus recommend hanging chimes in the doorway to the kitchen or over the stove sings good energy.
A bonus tip: A couple of days ago, I purchased a 2010 calendar. It's called Sweet Journey with photos of scrumptious sweet foods including narrative, such as "Power to the Truffle" to "The Mysterious Brownie." I just noticed it also features inspirational thoughts--and, of course, the dates of lunar cycles. I'm feeling better already.