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
So, here I am fantasizing about a booked trip to Alaska in autumn and enjoying parts of summer. Living at Tahoe has its perks but this season comes with challenges. Yosemite is burning again. And again. This time it's bigger and badder... Evacuations are happening again. The air quality is not holding its own here. I woke up a 6 a.m. to let the dog outdoors and the sky was like fog in Monterey but we're at Tahoe. I knew it meant wildfire -- and I was right.
Booked a room in Los Gatos but held back. Maybe just maybe with a bit of luck it will be contained sooner than later. It's estimated by July 30 but so far zero percent. UPDATE: 10 percent contained 7-25; air quality about 100 (unhealthy for sensitives, like me). I suppose a go bag is in order but I continue to complete another book based in the South -- where the state sits on the New Madrid fault, has hot and humid summers, and tornadoes.
Wherever you are there are challenges...I was taught that rude awakening fact when I was a teenager. It's true. So, using a bit of practical magic my help a bit.
Into the home and it's time for some feng shui...
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 your fave tunes and use the headphone. Brew a cup of iced tea 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--especially the Healing Powers series. Don't forget to freshen up your dried spices. Out with the old and in with the new for more flavor and aroma.
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 liberating. 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.). Add cookbooks--the Healing Powers Series--9 books will just about do it!
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 summer 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). Ah, and fresh herbs for summertime light, flavorful cooking is a must! In the window sills, please.
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. (Goldfish, betta, mollies, snails, frog, catfish--all small and all happy.)
8. Bring Out the Fresh Fruit. I've got several plump healthful seasonal fruits on display and ready to eat or use in recipes, such as apples, grapefruits, lemons, oranges, peaches, and plums placed in a bowl or two. Fresh artichokes to tomatoes adds a nice touch. According to feng shui wizards 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.
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 hanger. If so, I will not, nor should you hang it over your workspace. Not good energy, or so they feng shui gurus claim. Personal Note: Add a cat and rustic table to get that Hemingway vibe going.
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 every time I look at Mr. Sunshine. Feng shui enthusiasts recommend hanging chimes in the doorway to the kitchen or over the stove sings good energy.