Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My kitchen

I'd like to give you a little tour of my kitchen. It's my cozy little corner of the house, a place where I feel comfortable and productive, most of the time.

My kitchen isn't large. Nothing in it is what you would call "state-of-the-art," but it works fine and I like what I have. The layout could be improved slightly, for better movement and flow while working, but for a house built thirty-plus years ago, it's surprisingly modern and usable. We can see that many updates have been made, including tile flooring (which is the same in all the "wet" areas of the house), newer appliances and pull-outs in the cabinets for extra storage.

We can also tell that some cabinets were removed over the peninsula; this is a mixed blessing, since additional storage would be nice to have but the peninsula is our main workspace and it's nice to have it open to the family room adjacent to the kitchen. I appreciate being able to keep an eye on the kids and it's great for entertaining too.

My kitchen is decorated in a slightly kitschy way, which is my taste. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love strawberries, both to eat and in decoration. My kitchen contains a lot of items I have been collecting all of my adult life; fortunately, strawberry-themed items are fairly easy to find, especially if you spend as much time as I do trolling eBay.

These plates hang on the walls above the cabinets, over the peninsula and sink areas. Some were gifts, others I bought myself, but they're all special to me. All but the green one are old, 1940's or so. The green one is fake Majolica from Marshalls.

I have an open shelf area above the stove where I used to keep my cookbooks until I realized they wouldn't stay very clean up there. So I moved them and now use this shelf for other treasures.

The big strawberry is actually a ceramic cookie jar, from the 1940's. The leaf part lifts off and it's hollow inside. This was a very special surprise gift from the Bear when we were first married. We were living in a tiny village at the time and there was a little coffee shop on our street; they had this item in the window and I would gawk at it every time we passed by. He went there alone and bought it for my birthday. Such a happy birthday that was!

The strawberry bowl in the middle is imported from Italy and not especially old, 1960's, I think. I bought that one on eBay; it was a good deal for a pretty little piece. The strawberry pitcher is one that I use for flowers quite often; it works well for larger ones like roses, irises and big tulips. 

As for the smaller items, the salt and pepper shakers on the left are the ones which came with my everyday china. The bright green and red spotted jugs are things I have picked up along the way; the red one actually came from the UK, another eBay purchase, but was surprisingly cheap, even with shipping. The little glass strawberry is nothing special, just something cute. The sheep salt and pepper shakers on the right belonged to my mother-in-law; they raised sheep when the Bear was growing up. So they're sentimental items for him.

My cookbooks were moved to a space on the counter, between the microwave and toaster. Space is at a premium in this room but I can't not have cookbooks, that would be ridiculous to me. Cookbooks make me who I am! Well, to a degree.

This is not my entire cookbook collection anyway. I have others stored away on bookcases around the house. I have also parted with many in the past few years; I like to try new things and it's nice to have the recipes at your fingertips in the kitchen, but these days, it isn't difficult to find most kinds of recipes online.

Here you see the cookbooks I use most often. The Betty Crocker was given to me when I was a new bride and a very bad cook. It's definitely my most used cookbook, followed by the America's Test Kitchen one. The Joy of Cooking belonged to my mother-in-law and it's a bit dated but it's hard to find some of those recipes today.

I only have a couple celebrity-chef books at this point. I used to have a stack of Rachael Ray cookbooks years ago but I got tired of her cooking. Nobody wants to eat stews made with hot dogs or whatever she was making. The big white binder is what we call our "family cookbook." That's where we store printed-out recipes from online, pages torn from magazines, hastily-jotted notes taken while we watch a cooking show and a lot of other things.

Two of the best-loved utilitarian items in my kitchen are the Breville Ikon electric kettle and the Kitchen Aid Artisan standing mixer.

It's me! Well, my headless body. I'm fully clothed, unlike some scary internet memes I have seen.

I really can't remember how I functioned without the kettle and mixer. Slowly and less-adeptly, I think. I make tea for myself twice a day, once in mid-morning while I'm attending to housework and again in the afternoon, while my small Bears are watching their daily hour of TV. The Bear drinks tea sometimes too but he also uses boiled water from the kettle for coffee, which he brews with a single-cup filter. I don't drink much coffee myself. I keep a supply of my favorite Trader Joe's Irish breakfast tea and drink that instead. Brewed strongly, of course.

I have a lot of tea around here; I do drink other types on occasion too. But I keep the Irish breakfast tea on the counter for easy access. I store it in this little tin the Bear gave me. It was made in England. I think it's very pretty.

Another special item in my kitchen is this small cuckoo clock. It hangs on the wall next to the pantry.

This clock came from Germany. My grandfather brought it home with him when he was in the Navy. He had a long career with the Navy and spent a lot of time in Europe. He would have acquired this clock in the 1950's or early 1960's. My mother gave it to me when he died. He was a very avid collector of all types of clocks. I have another small one from him in my dining room hutch. This one is not well-made or valuable, and in fact, it doesn't even work because I lost both the winding key and the pendulum somewhere along the way. It has been in all of my homes as an adult and it's special to me.

I've shared photos of my breakfast nook before; we have a simple (tile-inlaid, glass-topped) pine table and chairs set in there. Thankfully no more high-chair but the GB does still use a booster seat at the table. Hanging on the wall in the nook I have this framed poster of botanical drawings of strawberries. The poster is an inexpensive reproduction, of course, framed in a poster frame I found on clearance at Michael's. But it has a fake mat which makes it look a bit nicer. The artwork was done by a Dutch scientist in the 16th century. I really love the colors and the intricacy of the drawings.

I think that's about it for the truly interesting stuff in my kitchen. The rest is pretty standard, but nice, and we try to keep it that way. Newer glass cook-top stove with convection option in the oven and self-cleaning capability. Large two-sided porcelain sink. Efficient dishwasher (installed at the same time as the stove). French-door, bottom-freezer refrigerator (our newest item, purchased last year). New light fixture over the breakfast nook (we replaced a hideous monstrosity; those previous owners gardened well but they didn't have good taste in lighting). Good knives, for which all credit goes to the Bear; he chooses them well and keeps them terrifyingly sharp for me. We had speakers installed in the ceiling when we bought the house, so we can (and do) rock out while cooking.

Most days, I tie on my apron (Cath Kidston Chelsea Roses, thank you very much) around 4:00 PM and start puttering. The small Bears may join me or they pull up stools to the far side of the peninsula to watch, or they ignore me altogether. I start chopping vegetables, thickening slow-cooker juices, firing up the rice-cooker...whatever that day's meal requires. I turn on the stereo to my favorite mix-radio station (a little heavy on the Journey but they play enough Heart and Fleetwood Mac for my liking), and I get into my kitchen mindset.

I usually light a candle on the stove too. This one's scent is intended to be "white tea and thyme," but I'm not sure if that's accurate or not. It smells good and I think I'll buy another. It makes me happy. My kitchen makes me happy. It contains some of my favorite items and I get to do interesting things there for people I love.


  1. I loved your kitchen tour. Strawberries are very pretty for a decorating theme. My kitchen is much older than yours but I have decorated it in gray and red so the strawberry thing would be right up my alley. I posted once on a chat question about my electric kettle being my favorite appliance. My Kitchenaid would be 2nd place too. I love your tea caddy. That is such a unique lovely piece. Thank you for the wonderful tour!

    1. Hi Softie! Thanks. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)

  2. How lovely to have a little peak into your kitchen! My favourite is the cuckoo clock....really great and so nice to have something that has been handed down and has some history. I noticed you have a Jamie Oliver cookbook there. Do you like his style of cooking? I have most of his books (but not this one!) and I really like his laid back attitude to creating his food.

    1. Hi Claire! Thanks. Yes, I do like him. I think he makes things very simple and his ideas are very fresh and different!

  3. Hi Jennifer... One of my favourite names!
    Thank you for your supportive comment.
    Even bigger Thank You for the tour of your kitchen. My lovely Mum used to plant a pot of strawberries just for y youngest to be able to find a ripe one and pick it. Cherished memories x

    1. Hi Linda! Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed the tour. I love my little kitchen. You're welcome for the comment...what you said hit home for me and I appreciate knowing that there are others out like me out there.

  4. What a lovely tour :) The strawberry theme is lovely, you've found some really pretty things. Elisabeth x

  5. What a lovely tour of your kitchen. It obviously makes you very happy. I just love that strawberry cookie jar, and that cuckoo clock is fantastic. x

    1. Hi Gillian! Thank you. My kitchen is definitely my main happy place. :)

  6. Your kitchen is gorgeous & really inspiring! And you have a Kitchen Aid! I really want one :) I'm saving up for something like it!

    1. Hi darkrose! Thank you. I love my Kitchen Aid! I got it for my birthday two years ago and it has made life a lot easier. You'll love it. :)

  7. I have the same kitchen aid in the same color :) I got a great deal on it and I love it!

  8. Thanks for the cool kitchen tour, Jennifer! My wife is a fan of cookbooks as well (I guess she learned that the way to a man's heart is thru his stomach.)
    and is in love with any collection of kitchen items; In fact, she knows how many of every utensil we have. The colorful items in your kitchen are noticeable in the white background. I got to let her see this post! Keep it coming.
    -Bronwyn Hass

  9. Really liked this post - thank you


Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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